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Northwest Corner: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 26, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (July 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781400068456
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400068456
  • ASIN: 1400068452
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,542,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Praise for Northwest Corner

"The power of Northwest Corner, as its geographical center moves from Connecticut to California and back again, is in the way it asks the hardest questions of human experience with subtle of the most emotionally commanding novels of the year." -- NPR "Books We Like"

“Eloquently told…[an] elegiac, thoughtful novel…While this isn’t the first story about the indestructible bonds of family, it’s an especially nuanced and moving one.” -- The New York Times
“Poetic, introspective, evocative…one of the most gut-wrenching books I’ve ever read….In Schwartz’s hands, the narrative unfolds delicately, each chapter a puzzle piece that fits seamlessly into the whole. Grade: A.” -- Entertainment Weekly
“Daring as usual, Schwartz takes risks not just with his characters’ lives but in his writing…A bruised beauty.” -- Elle

“Finely wrought.” -- O Magazine

“In Northwest Corner, Schwartz delicately explores this broken father-son relationship, and how Dwight and Sam begin to reach out to one another…In short, finely honed chapters, Schwartz examines the state of mind of each of these wounded souls, drawing the reader into their fragile lives. This is a brilliant exposure of one modern family in moral crisis, a story that in some way touches each of us.” -- Bookpage
“Schwartz [writes] with a quiet artfulness, giving each character a unique and uniquely moving voice embedded within a consistently interesting and graceful prose -- and creating a structure and style that neatly reflect the story they frame, of piecing together a whole life that is at once the sum of its parts and much more." -- Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Exceptional at describing the chemistry of desire, creating emotional tension, and making his characters feel more like flesh and blood than fictional constructs. Imaginative and taut, Schwartz’s writing is seamless and infinitely inspired.”
-- Publishers Weekly
“Stark and deeply effecting.” – Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Readers of Reservation Road will enjoy continuing the stories of these two families, linked by tragedy, while those who haven’t yet discovered this powerful writer are in for a treat.” – Library Journal
“How do survivors carry on after their lives are scarred by tragedy? What causes a legacy of violence to echo from one generation to the next? Those are the questions John Burnham Schwartz poses and answers with a gentle touch in this moving sequel to his popular 1998 novel, Reservation Road…Although Schwartz's novel can be appreciated without reference to Reservation Road, it will be especially rewarding for anyone who valued the depth of characterization, keen psychological insight and ability to sustain narrative suspense that marked the earlier work. It's unlikely we'll see the Arnos or the Learners again, but we can be grateful to their creator for allowing us to leave them with a fuller sense of their lives.” – Shelf Awareness
“I was enthralled by Northwest Corner, reluctant to tear myself away even for a moment from a tale so delicately assembled, so well paced. For me Schwartz evokes Steinbeck and Updike in that magical ability to weave out of a regional story of family, a broader chronicle of America…Truly a great American novel.” - Abraham Verghese
“The masterful Northwest Corner is that finest of things—a moral novel about mortal events.” - Dennis Lehane

About the Author

John Burnham Schwartz is the author of four previous novels: The Commoner, Claire Marvel, Bicycle Days, and Reservation Road, which was made into a motion picture based on his screenplay. His books have been translated into two dozen languages, and his writing has appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker and The New York Times. A winner of the Lyndhurst Foundation Award for mastery in the art of fiction, Schwartz has taught at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard University, and Sarah Lawrence College, and is currently literary director of the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Aleksandra Crapanzano, and their son, Garrick.

Customer Reviews

Once again the same characters are back-to face the consequences of their past action.
A. Koren
Many areas are difficult to follow on the first or a casual read due to excessively long, convoluted sentences interspersed with too many parenthetical statements.
David N. Parker
John Burnham Schwartz writes with a combination of poetic prose and tactile descriptions that allow the reader to become part of his characters.
Sun Valley Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Someone Else TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I did a quick second reading of Reservation Road prior to reading Northwest Corner. While it's not strictly necessary, I do recommend doing so if you have the time and inclination. It really enhanced my enjoyment of Northwest Corner to have the characters fresh in my mind and compare the past with the present.

When we last saw Sam Arno in Reservation Road, he was a sleepy boy of ten, asking his dad if they could go sledding later. He hadn't a clue that his life would change forever on that day.
Now Sam is a quiet, confused, surly 22-year-old UConn baseball star. His anger boils over one night in a bar, and he commits a savage act of violence. Fearing arrest, he flees to Southern California, seeking the father he hasn't seen or spoken to in twelve years. His father Dwight has made a fresh start in Santa Barbara, where no one knows about the hit-and-run death of Josh Learner all those years ago.

Sam's crisis gives us a chance to revisit some of Reservation Road's central characters and see the long-term effects of what happened twelve years ago. We get the story through the perspectives of five characters, with Dwight Arno's being the central, first-person narrative. Members of the Learner family are represented, but Northwest Corner is largely the story of what used to be the Arno family: Sam, Dwight, and his ex-wife Ruth. I found Ruth to be the most admirable character, which is quite a shift from the way I viewed her in Reservation Road. She has a lot of history to overcome, and she gives Dwight more grace than he deserves. Ruth has the additional burden of handling a serious health crisis alone, and she does so with strength and dignity.

Schwartz doesn't hit you in the face with what you're supposed to get from the book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This novel is a literary blessing for fans of Reservation Road who felt that Schwartz wasn't "finished" with the Arno family, that he had more to say and a penetrating way of saying it. This is a follow-up to the Arno and Learner families, twelve years after a hit-and-run tragedy that shredded two families to fractious pieces. At the time of the incident, Dwight and Ruth Arno (the centerpiece family) were already divorced, and this just annihilated any redemptive force from taking shape between them. Their son, Sam, was only nine, and already packing some rage from the tragedy.

The review is circumspect so as not to give spoilers on either novel. In this case, it is highly recommended that Reservation Road be read first, to have a more thorough understanding of the situation and characters.

As in Reservation Road, Schwartz writes with a powerful poetic and impressionistic style. Whereas some authors' stylistic devices get in the way and distract the reader, Schwartz's form of narrative deepens the experience, gives a potent and intoxicating weight to the characters and their circumstances. This novel is more breathtaking than its predecessor.

Schwartz delivers with brief (sometimes less than a page) chapters headed by character names, and only Dwight's is written in the first person perspective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on August 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author left us with two very devastated families, the Lerner's and the Arno's, twelve years ago in RESERVATION ROAD as the fallout from the death of 10-year-old Josh Lerner in a hit-and-run accident at the hands of Dwight Arno. The families have long since splintered and scattered, with Dwight being forced to completely revamp his life after his incarceration for three years. He works in Santa Barbara, CA, as a sporting goods store manager, miles from his former Conn home. The structure of the book reflects that breakup as the perspective shifts in short, alternating chapters among Dwight, his ex-wife Ruth, his college-age son Sam, Josh's sister Emma, also in college, and others.

Supposedly, time heals all hurts, but it becomes quite evident that their apparent normalcy is at best a thin veneer over the deep-seated pain that all too often reappears. What brings the past rushing into their lives with unmitigated ferocity is a senseless bar fight after a U of Conn baseball game, where Sam gets sucker-punched. His baseball gear being under his barstool, he grabs a bat and strikes his assailant forcefully enough that he ends up in ICU fighting for his life. Sam, flooded with the obvious parallels between his actions and the violence in his father's past, flees to CA with no real understanding of why he is drawn to his father who he has not seen in over a decade.

Though some of it is directed at each other, the raw emotions of these characters are best seen in their no-holds-barred introspection. This is a collection of people who are hurting, who are compelled to spend a great deal of energy in coming to grips with the impact of the past and who generally see a hopeless future.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

John Burnham Schwartz grew up in New York City. At Harvard College, he majored in Japanese studies, and upon graduation accepted a position with a prominent Wall Street investment bank, before finally turning the position down after selling his first novel. That book, BICYCLE DAYS, a coming of age story about a young American man in Japan, was published in 1989 on his 24th birthday. It went on to become a critically acclaimed bestseller.

RESERVATION ROAD, his second novel about a family tragedy and its aftermath, published in 1998, was also critically acclaimed and a bestseller, and in 2007 it was made into a major motion picture based on Schwartz's screenplay. The film starred Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Connelly, and was directed by Terry George.

Schwartz went on to publish CLAIRE MARVEL, a love story set in America and France, and, in 2008, THE COMMONER, a novel inspired by the lives of the current empress and crown princess of Japan. Spanning seventy years of modern Japanese history and looking deep into the secret, ancient world of the Japanese Imperial Family, THE COMMONER has won Schwartz the best reviews and sales of his career.

In July of 2011, Random House will publish Schwartz's fifth novel, NORTHWEST CORNER, which picks up the lives of some of the characters from RESERVATION ROAD twelve years later. NORTHWEST CORNER is an urgent, powerful story about family bonds that can never be broken and the wayward roads that lead us back to those we love.

Schwartz's work has been translated into more than 20 languages. He is a recipient of a Lyndhurst Prize for mastery in the art of fiction, and his journalism has appeared widely in such publications as The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, and Vogue.

Since writing the script for Reservation Road, Schwartz has become an accomplished screenwriter as well as a novelist. He has written screen adaptations of New York Times editor Dana Canedy's memoir "A Journal for Jordan," and Nancy Horan's bestselling novel Loving Frank for Sony Pictures and Lionsgate, respectively. He is currently creating a dramatic television series for Showtime, inspired by Den of Thieves, James Stewart's acclaimed account of the insider-trading corruption scandal of the 1980s.

Schwartz has taught fiction writing at Harvard, The University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and Sarah Lawrence College, and he is the literary director of the Sun Valley Writers' Conference, one of the leading literary festivals in the United States.

He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, screenwriter and food writer Aleksandra Crapanzano, and their son, Garrick.

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