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Country of a Marriage: Stories [Kindle Edition]

Anthony Giardina
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

The Country of Marriage is a window into the lives of men as they confront the darkness at the heart of domestic existence. And with this collection of stories, Anthony Giardina takes his place among the finest writers of short fiction in America today. His work has appeared in Harper's, Esquire, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine and has been showcased alongside the work of such contemporary giants as Tobias Wolff and Robert Stone. He is that rare artist whose stories will endure.

The Country of Marriage shows, with frightening clarity, that the most ordinary lives are fraught with secret dreams and frustrations that can both support and sabotage everyday love. Giardina looks at our relationships--with an eye capable of clinical precision but never devoid of compassion--and gives voice to the emotions that lie unexplored and unexpressed beneath their seemingly placid surface.

In "Days with Cecilia,'' a highly articulate shop teacher reveals by attrition the sexual secret of his marriage. In "The Lake," a young fireman confronts his complicity in the murder of his best friend's wife. And in "The Films of Richard Egan," the aborted career of an almost-was film star finds its echo in a suburban boy's life.

These are emotional landscapes at once familiar and unsettling, with characters who are instantly recognizable but endlessly surprising. Brilliantly observed and masterfully told, The Country of Marriage is an unforgettable montage of lives of dwindling promise, of stubborn hope, of emotional atrophy, and of the courage to take root in the indifferent soil of modern existence.

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This collection of short stories examines long-term relationships and coping methods used by partners who become bored. Not one of Giardina's couples is very happy. Most struggle with the crisis of wanting more. Partners yearn for a broader, more diverse, more ambitious circumference to their lives. In "Days with Cecelia" a new father prefers caring for his child to making love to his wife. In "The Lake" a small town firefighter becomes an accessory to the murder of his lover by her enraged husband. Adultery, alcohol, divorce, death, deception, and resignation all figure prominently in the outcomes of these stories. Characters are diverse and drawn with a keen eye for detail.The emotions explored are bitter-sweet at best and do not really recommend the institution of marriage. These pieces are elegantly crafted. Recommended.?Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Coll. of Continuing Education Lib., Watch Hill
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Supposedly how a marriage is faring is a mystery to all but those who are party to it; Giardina's sketches of partnerships after the bloom is off and the kids have arrived yield a nuanced study that has the ring of truth about it. All but one of his main characters are men in their mid-thirties whose ambition has fizzled and who live in small towns in New England. They are firemen or academics sidetracked into nonacademic jobs; one character teaches shop. The men seem more nurturing toward their children than their wives, as in "Days with Cecilia," in which the shop teacher handles day-care pickups while diffidently fuming about his professional wife's affair. Spousal estrangement introduces themes of infidelity in almost every story, including the only story with a wife's point of view, "The Challenge of the Poet." This exploration of vanished infatuation is contemplative and sad--though Giar-dina skillfully avoids the lugubrious. Artful portraits likely to conjure the empathy of many readers. Gilbert Taylor

Product Details

  • File Size: 910 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (December 10, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000SHOK8I
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,939,636 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giardina could make a cereal box interesting! November 9, 1998
By A Customer
Just when I thought there was not one man in this world who understood themselves, let alone other men, I stumble onto this book. Giardina writes such truth. His voice hits the mark on every imaginable relationship. It is hard to except such weak, yet successful, crap fiction from say....Nicholas Sparks, when there is an intelligent writer like Giardina, in the wings, waiting to save us all. Read this and recomend the book to your friends who give a damn. You will not be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By J. Luiz
Giardina does an interesting job of getting inside the heads of men who can't effectively communicate what they feel or need to the significant others in their lives, but their interior thoughts over their frustrations with life are beautifully written in passages that border on poetry. Not all the characters are likeable. Many of the characters - such as the narrators of "I Live in Yonville" and "Love, Your Parents" - are self-satisfied to the point of being obnoxious but the stories ultimately lead you to feel compassion for them because Giardina so effectively portrays how deluded all that self-satisfaction has led them to be. Common themes across all the stories are the stifling impact of life in the suburbs, and the compromise it represents from the dream that boys (and in one story, a woman) had for their lives.

The 9 stories in the collection are:

1. I Live In Yonville - 14 pp - A man ruminates, smugly at first but then rather desperately, about the routine-ness of his life as a suburban middle-class husband and father. (The title comes from the fact that the man is proud of himself for having read Flaubert, and he knows his life bears a similarity to Emma Bovary's and Emma lived in Yonville.)

2. Days with Cecilia - 25 pp - An exploration of what can happen to a marriage after the birth of a child, and how a spouse can become totally absorbed in the child and lose interest in sex. But there is an interesting twist on this common predicament. Here it's the husband who lives solely for the baby. He is the primary caregiver, and his wife, the primary breadwinner, is the one who started an affair to get some physical attention.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Meditation May 1, 2000
By A Customer
I was trying to figure out why I liked this book so much because subject matter and other things were so bourgeois and a little pretentious - poets and professional type people drinking wine, listening to Jazz, going to therapy, driving semi yuppie cars, reading classics and watching foreign flicks. Despite all of that, it occurred to me, on my third or fourth reading of the first story, "I live in Yonville," that Giardina transcends. Without committing the sin of profundity, he reaches so deep (especially the first story, which, in my opinion, outshines the run of the mill contemp. lit. found in magazines and journals today and even the stories in this collection). He's got IT, as a writer. Reading Gardina is like getting high. He santifies those precious things we merely feel, on that touch and go level, though, we know it to be worth so much more.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a wonderful book of depth, eloquence, and truth February 16, 1998
Ever since reading "Days with Cecilia" in Harper's , I have looked for stories by Anthony Giardina everywhere. The Country of Marriage has fulfilled my need for stories that are written as I think - but in an elegant and beautiful country of words. The truth in these stories, written without regard for sniveling needs for ostentations or pretensions, is a fine breath of air after all the smoggy stuff now available. These are stories about the human spirit and ALL relationships and likely to appeal to anyone with sensitivity.
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