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And Both Shall Row: A Novella and Stories Hardcover – July 15, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (July 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312186827
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312186821
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,826,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In an ordinary writer's hands, the fictional town of Clayborne would be just like a thousand other half-forgotten Midwestern farm communities: dusty and worn, a touch melancholy. In Beth Lordan's luminous first collection, however, Clayborne is invested with more than a little magic. And it's not just in the shape of the ghost who haunts the first story, "The Widow," or the impossible run of luck experienced by the protagonist of "Running Out." Lordan's magic lies not in the supernatural but in the simple, human sympathy that exists between her characters. In "The Cow Story," for example, two isolated people are brought together unexpectedly by a runaway cow and a tornado. Sitting out the storm together at a kitchen table, 50-something librarian Maude Nash and 50-something bachelor farmer Byron Doatze stumble from acquaintanceship to friendship to the possibility of something more in the course of one night. Comes the moment of truth, however, and "they sat there. Maude took her look and Byron took his look. They both saw, because they could still see clearly in spite of the candles and the rain and the dark and the nightclothes and Byron's sock feet, that it would be pretty hard to get from where they were into bed together. They saw that this, after all, was coffee and cookies and a warm dry house in a rainstorm, in spite of the tornado and the cow." But in Lordan's universe a coffee-and-cookies evening can still be transformed into something more--and is, in the beautifully crafted related story, "The Dummy."

Perhaps it is the interrelatedness of these tales that gives them a more novelistic scope than short fiction generally has. Locales such as Frenchie's Superette, the Rainbow bar, and the diner, and minor characters such as Reverend Parsons show up in story after story, providing the threads that tie this collection together. And once Lordan has you all moved into her little fictional community and caught up in the lives of its citizens, she delivers her pièce de résistance, the title novella. In this remarkable tale of two elderly sisters facing mortality, Lordan pulls out all the stops to craft a story that is tough, tender, and a testament to both her skill as a writer and her tremendous understanding of human nature. These are short stories that even people who don't like short stories will love. --Alix Wilber

From Publishers Weekly

The six short stories and one novella in this collection show Lordan's (August Heat) skill at weaving a dense tapestry out of the most mundane detail and the darkest secrets hidden from the closest relatives. Precise prose generously laced with subtle wisdom serves to heighten the ominous tone that pervades the stories, as if almost imperceptible earthquakes threaten to upset the precarious balance of her characters' lives. The title novella, a history of two sisters in their 80s who live together in a small Midwestern town, reveals how little they really know about each other. When a stroke leaves the younger sister paralyzed and interrupts a daily routine that has kept painful memories at bay?both sisters had been married, at different times, to the same man?the truth of their loneliness and regret emerges with frightening intensity. Faced with breaking habits that held little consolation for them, they both contemplate suicide, and it is this last desperate act that finally establishes a measure of understanding between them. The remaining stories are set in the same locale and feature characters who are similarly locked into a way of life; they are generally baffled by fate but grateful for the small tendernesses and friendships that each day offers. Small, understated epiphanies bring them comfort, and sometimes inspiration, in their struggles over bitterness and disappointment. Lordan is definitely a writer to watch; she eschews flashy effects to build characters whose simple lives take on dignity and meaning.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
I was submerged this weekend, in the mystical town of Clayborne, lost in its lazy afterhaze, an Elysium gone bittersweet and very, very human. Yet these characters, for all their humanity, breathe of a golden place beyond the here and now. There are moments of light in this collection, when a character discovers that which gives joyous rapture to a moment, a hint of the divine which we all, even if secretly, aspire to. There are very few writers, in my forty odd years of publishing experience, who have so deeply moved me on first reading. Time will prove this volume to be little less than the foundation of some fantastic vision which we have only begun to glimpse. Lordan touches the bone of human experience without wallowing in the pathos. When a writer makes me wax poetic, there's something serious going on here. Watch this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Great, I picked a book for my trip to the Maine Woods, and this one fit the bill in every regard. I thought there were no authors around who wrote with such intricate regard for the human spirit--whose characters are alive, real. That's a model all writers strive for, but few achieve. Lordan's keen pursuit of the truth in the lives of her characters and tales of small town America leaves me nostalgic, a bit melancholy, but ultimately refreshed. Give us more!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
The novella is what makes the book worth buying, given that it is the only part of this collection where one does not feel the need to cry out, "So what?" The stories attempt to mimic the setting and feel of Sherwood Anderson's <Winesburg, Ohio>, but come off feeling like a cheap perfume imitation. The characters leave one feeling as if the author intended to create conversations among beings possessed with artificial intelligence, a Frankensteinian Monster gone wrong. The exigency for this collection seems forced, as a result of too much writing and not enough depth
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Stubbs(luke@livingston.net) on December 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
"And Both Shall Row" includes Lordan's award-nominated story "The Widow", a haunting and poetic love story of a farmer and his wife (the story is told largely through the eyes of the wife's ghost). In "The Widow" and subsequent stories, the craftsmanship and artistry of Lordan's weavings dissolve borders between reader and the printed word, and one is left in that Otherland of the great masters of fiction. Lordan's writing is mystical, passionate, and true. "And Both Shall Row" has shades of Faulkner and Chekhov, but the author is an original, and her work deserves great praise! Thanks, Amazon, for another great discovery!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ryanstubbs@hotmail.com on January 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
Here _it_ is again...a form of fiction that reminds us who the brilliant writers are. We used to kneel before them, but magic fades and becomes real, like the blue light of Claiborne and its tarnished characters parading through the set of what we had hoped would be something as good as it is..
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