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Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life Hardcover – November 15, 2011

2.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Beattie has created a resplendent paean to the pleasures of the literary imagination , and a riveting and mischievous, revealing and revitalizing portrait of an overlooked woman.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections, in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century, and in Jennifer Egan’s The Best American Short Stories 2014. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She was the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. She is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Maine and Key West, Florida.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439168717
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439168714
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,932,739 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections and in John Updike's Best American Short Stories of the Century. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story form. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Key West, Florida, and Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What a daunting challenge this author confronted when crafting "Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life."

Three incompatible players vie for attention in the book's 300 pages: the author, Ann Beattie; the husband of the woman first mentioned in the title, Richard Nixon; and the ostensible subject of the book, Pat Nixon. Each of these persons is known for practicing a kind of obscurantism, by which I mean deliberately preventing the facts or full details of something from becoming known. For Beattie this has been an aesthetic choice. The writer Jay McInerney once described Beattie's preferred style as "a refusal to overdetermine her characters, a reluctance to explain their behavior." For President Nixon the withholding of information was a practice that dragged him ultimately to the brink of impeachment. For his wife Pat Nixon this behavior was an emotional defense, how she chose to preserve personal dignity in the face of prying inquisitors.

So what have these three jousting protagonists created? In the judgment of most readers who've posted reviews, the result is an odd, unstable, and ultimately dissatisfying book. Beattie, the ringleader, comes across as showy and self-indulgent. Nixon emerges as self-pitying, a boor to be around. And Pat Nixon? Even with all the creative forces at her disposal, Beattie fails to inspire the First Lady to escape her comfort zone. Mrs. Nixon remains, at book's end, an enigma.

What's to like about MRS. NIXON? Answers come from some professional critics who say the book is an interesting literary concoction, unclassifiable, genre-bending, playful and polymorphous, and unlike anything Beattie's written before. But notice how these descriptions avoid answering the question of whether the book is a worthwhile read.
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Format: Hardcover
I feel compelled to write this review because I disagree so strongly with the reviewers who disliked this book. I think it's brilliant - Ann Beattie explores the no-man's-land between biography and fiction, and between truth and perception, with wry wit and subtlety. Part of the job of reading a biography is picking out the author's lens and filters. Here, Ann Beattie has stripped off any pretense of impartiality, and shows us what goes on in the author's mind - both that of the biographers and of the fiction writer.

In fact, I originally borrowed this book from the library, and I looked it up on Amazon because I'm going to order copies to give to all my writer friends. I'll be reading this book again.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Given the very limited number of books about Pat Nixon, I chose this one rather than the one written by daughter, Julie. Poor choice on my part. The author of the book was more interested in exploring her own interpretations of other literary sources as she perceived they may or may not relate to Mrs. Nixon. Was she trying to impress readers with the (perhaps) breadth of her own reading, viewing, thinking? Whatever she was doing - she failed to present to me a picture of Pat Nixon, the woman. I was not interested in the author's application of possibilities and fantasies of the woman. I deleted the book from my kindle in an effort to make it go away. It was such a waste of my time. I really would like to know more about Mrs. Nixon. Perhaps I'll visit Julie's book after all. JRC
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Format: Hardcover
Picked this up because it looked intriguing. Ended up being just uninteresting. I'm not sure what the author was trying to do, but it didn't seem to shed any light on Mrs. Nixon. She seemed to be trying to cover literary criticism and exposition, her own personal views, what Richard Nixon was or wasn't thinking, and very little Pat Nixon.

Boring and self-indulgent.
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Format: Hardcover
The title of this "novel" in misleading. It could be "about" anyone. The author is bent on expounding about the writing styles of various authors: how the point of view is created, how the reader can be manipulated to assume one thing or another. Since an image representing Mrs. Nixon appears on the cover, I had expected to learn something about Pat Nixon who was a rather enigmatic figure. The author only returns to very brief references to her to illustrate some obscure literary technique. If you're into literary technique, this might be the book for you. If you would really like to be enlightened about Mrs. Nixon, don't waste your time or money.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is one of the most interesting and creative books I have read in a long time. Beattie astutely gets into the mind of a very private woman through both research and a talent for psychological observation. This book is invaluable to anyone who either writes or reads as it offers, as well, insight into the writing processes. Very innovative. A must read.
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Format: Kindle Edition
What a waste of my time!!! I LOVE history and thought this would be a good read....NOT!!! This is the worst I have read ever! Too bad it was on a subject that could have been very interesting on a Phillipa Gregory level. Novelist approach quite interesting....gives you several options on what COULD have been said....and then starts rambling, adding apples and oranges!
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Format: Paperback
I was looking forward to gaining some insight into Pat Nixon's personality, but found instead a rambling treatise on how to guess someone's thoughts, personality, motives, etc. from a random comment or facial expression. It was certainly an original approach, but tedious and disappointing to the point that I finally gave up on it.
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