Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Intro: The Summer Without Men

Sometime after he said the word pause, I went mad and landed in the hospital. He did not say I don't ever want to see you again or It's over, but after thirty years of marriage pause was enough to turn me into a lunatic whose thoughts burst, ricocheted, and careened into one another like popcorn kernels in a microwave bag. I made this sorry observation as I lay on my bed in the South Unit, so heavy with Haldol I hated to move. The nasty rhythmical voices had grown softer, but they hadn't disappeared, and when I closed my eyes I saw cartoon characters racing across pink hills and disappearing into blue forests. In the end, Dr. P. diagnosed me with Brief Psychotic Disorder, also known as Brief Reactive Psychosis, which means that you are genuinely crazy but not for long. If it goes on for more than one month, you need another label. Apparently, there's often a trigger or, in psychiatric parlance, "a stressor," for this particular form of derangement. In my case, it was Boris or, rather, that Boris was having his pause. They kept me locked up for a week and a half, and then they let me go. I was an outpatient for a while before I found Dr. S., with her low musical voice, restrained smile, and good ear for poetry. She propped me up - still props me up, in fact.
The Summer Without Men
by Siri Hustvedt

On Sunday evening, I planned to sample a few pages of several books on my kindle before deciding what to read next. I began with The Summer Without Men, and those few pages somehow turned into forty.

Hustvedt's writing style was immediately engaging and I felt drawn to the main character (we are close in age, although far apart in circumstances). I have high hopes for the women with who will become Mia's summer companions, too.

Summary (from goodread)s:
Mia Fredrickson, the wry, vituperative, tragicomic poet narrator of The Summer Without Men, has been forced to reexamine her own life. One day, out of the blue, after thirty years of marriage, Mia’s husband, a renowned neuroscientist, asks her for a “pause.” This abrupt request sends her reeling and lands her in a psychiatric ward. The June following Mia’s release from the hospital, she returns to the prairie town of her childhood, where her mother lives in an old people’s home. Alone in a rented house, she rages and fumes and bemoans her sorry fate. Slowly, however, she is drawn into the lives of those around her—her mother and her close friends,“the Five Swans,” and her young neighbor with two small children and a loud angry husband—and the adolescent girls in her poetry workshop whose scheming and petty cruelty carry a threat all their own. 
From the internationally bestselling author of What I Loved comes a provocative, witty, and revelatory novel about women and girls, love and marriage, and the age-old question of sameness and difference between the sexes.
Have you read Siri Hustvedt? I have a feeling I'll be reading much more of her work.


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

54 comments:

  1. Sounds like this one hooked you quickly. Hope you continue to enjoy it!
    This week I am spotlighting Up At Butternut Lake by Mary McNear.

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  2. I have not read her, although I'm pretty sure I have something on my TBR shelf. But she always gets good reviews. This one sounds interesting!

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    1. JIll - I think you'd like her writing style, too.

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  3. This one sounds interesting! I like her writing style in the intro.

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    1. Sarah - I really like it so far.

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  4. As soon as I read the title, I was curious. The intro sounds good. I would keep reading.

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    1. Pat - The title certainly caught my eye ;-)

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  5. I'd keep reading. I have this on my shelf.

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    1. Beth F - Hope the rest of the book is as good as the first 40 pages.

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  6. Yes, definitely sounds interesting. I haven't read this author before, looks like is one to keep a lookout for.My post is here

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    1. Peggy - I think I'll be adding her other novels to my wish list!

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  7. From your description and the first chapter, this would be a book I'd read right now! I'll have to look it up!
    Harvee
    Book Dilettante

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    1. Harvee - After reading the opening, it seemed like I had no choice but to continue!

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  8. I like the sound of this one and the writing style, so I would keep reading.

    My Tuesday intro: http://www.bookclublibrarian.com/2014/04/first-chapter-first-paragraph-58.html

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    1. Catherine - I have a feeling the rest of the book will be just as good.

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  9. I haven't yet read this author, but the summary and the beginning have convinced me to add it to my list. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - Hope you get a chance to read Hustvedt soon!

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  10. This is my nightstand book so I read a few pages every night before bed. I am usually too exhausted to read more than five at a time but it's holding my interest.

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    1. Ti - I suppose that's why nightstand books always take so much longer to finish ;-)

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  11. I've heard great things about this author's work, and, based on the sample you've shared, would definitely keep reading.

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    1. Literary Feline - She's been on my 'authors to read' list for a long time.

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  12. I've seen this one around the blogs. Looks like it could be a good read.

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    1. Yvonne - I'm really enjoying it so far!

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  13. I have a feeling you're about to introduce me to another wonderful new author...

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    1. Audrey - I'm very impressed so far...

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    1. Gautami - Guess it drew you right in, too!

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  15. Perhaps unbelievable, but I've never even heard of this author. I may have seen her name on some blogs, but clearly didn't take the time to read about her. I have heard of her husband, Paul Auster. You have piqued my interest and I shall look into this book. Thank you!

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    1. Nan - Such smart writing and I've enjoyed meeting the characters. Can't wait to see how she weaves them all in to the story. I've been meaning to read Paul Auster for ages, too.

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  16. I like the paragraph, I like the title and even though I'm happily married I do enjoy days with just the girls. thanks for stopping by. kelley—the road goes ever ever on

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    1. Kelley - Oh I agree! Don't know what I'd do without time with my sisters.

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  17. I have read Siri Hustvedt, I've read What I Loved (some years ago now) but I remember that I really enjoyed it so I'd recommend it. I haven't tried this one yet but I definitely would try it. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my post too.

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    1. Lindsay - I've just put it on my titles to investigate list. Thanks!

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  18. JoAnn, this book sounds good. I may have to pick up a copy. I have not read any of her books, but I know she is a highly respected author. Right now I am deep into Middlemarch and when I finally come up for air, this may be my next book. Thanks for the tip!

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    1. Sunday - You know I'm reading Middlemarch at the moment, too (95% done!). I decided I was too tired to concentrate on it Sunday night, then turned to contemporary fiction on my kindle. I'm really enjoying The Summer Without Men and know I will be looking for more of the author's work.

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  19. I have not read this author, but the intro had me hooked and I would keep reading.

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  20. Enjoyed your review. Read this and liked it but didn't love it. Would certainly read more by this writer. Your cover is nicer than mine!

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    1. Vintage Reading - I'm fascinated by the different covers publishers produce for US vs UK audiences! I often prefer the UK versions, but not this time ;-)

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  21. I've always liked those stories where the main character retreats to a childhood community and has a chance to rethink their life choices. I'm looking forward to your review.

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    1. Margot - I like that type of story, too, and am enjoying this book very much.

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  22. Never heard of this one but I do like the sound of it-

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    1. Diane - I picked this up last month (?) as a kindle daily deal... very good so far!

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    2. BTW, I forgot to mention how much I love the seasonal header change -- thank goodness that snow is gone:)

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    3. Diane - Spring sure was slow to arrive this year!! Believe it or not, I took that photo with my iPhone... no filters.

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  23. Hmmm, I need to look for those Kindle deals - I only think about it when I see a friend share such on FB or Twitter. This looks great - the cover suggests the protag has a good time?

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    1. Care - I subscribe to the kindle daily deal email. Think twice before signing up... it could get dangerous!

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  24. I love Hustvedt! I was a little unsure of this one at first because it's quite different from her other books, but ultimately I enjoyed it! --Andi (in the readathon account)

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    1. Andi - I love Hustvedt's writing and can't wait to check out her other books!

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  25. Sounds a little scary. Fascinating, though. Will add it to my list.

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    1. Midlife Roadtripper - Not really scary so far, and the writing is wonderful!

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  26. I haven't read this author before but it sounds like I should. I think this book would really interest me. I'm glad you enjoy her writing so much JoAnn.

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    1. Darlene - I already know I'll be adding her other books to my list!

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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