From Publishers Weekly
In this gloomy novel, Fowler (Before Women Had Wings
) presents a day in the life of writer Clarissa Burden, stuck in a loveless marriage and preoccupied with a joyless childhood. Memories of a cruel mother aren't the only things haunting Clarissa; a number of ghosts, including the 19th-century biracial family who had lived in Clarissa's Florida home, also weave themselves into Clarissa's story. Plagued by writer's block and suspicious of her photographer husband (and the nude models he employs), Clarissa leaves home for a day filled with spooky cemeteries, near-death experiences, life-altering conversations, exhilaration, and frustration. The plot tends to meander, incorporating not just incorporeal spirits but occasional jaunts into the minds of Florida's animals; still, Fowler produces some singularly memorable characters. By the time Clarissa stands up to her husband, readers will have suffered mightily through a sweltering Florida solstice, listening to the heroine's witty, sometimes whiney, internal monologue, and wishing for some real action. Fortunately, Fowler delivers on that wish, bringing together all her characters—dead, alive, and imagined—for an explosive conclusion. (Apr.)
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Florida novelist Clarissa Burden is suffering from writer’s block. She lacks no creativity when daydreaming up death scenarios for her philandering buffoon of a husband, but when it comes time to put fingers to keyboard, her mind is blank. However, on June 21, 2006 (the longest, hottest day of the year), Clarissa will encounter no less than a multitude of ghosts, a one-armed angel, a one-eyed man, a sexy young love interest, a dwarf circus, and a host of critters. Each one in some way will grant her the courage it will take to escape the dull monotony of her day-to-day existence and write a new story. As in Sugar Cage (1992) and Before Women Had Wings (1996), Fowler lends magic and voice to the singular Florida landscape. In addition, this time she blurs the line between the written and the writer as we witness Clarissa’s brave discovery that the real truth is often the most risky tale to tell. --Annie Bostrom