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Rapture Hardcover – January 15, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1st edition (January 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375413278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375413278
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,210,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The thrilling, self-loathing, and compelling nature of sexual habit between reunited lovers is the subject of Susan Minot's short novel Rapture. An afternoon of commingling frees up the minds of Benjamin and Kay to ponder relationships, sex, and the complexities between men and women. They focus especially on the attendant hopes, misunderstandings, and quashed feelings that occur when people are involved yet on the fence about each other. Benjamin and Kay evoke no great sympathy, but in this frank portrayal of a faulty pairing, Minot hits on many emotional truths hidden in the motivations for sex and the development and maintenance of relationships in the almighty quest for "the One."
It was amazing how much things could change between two people. That you could feel a person was your eternal mate one day and three months later bump into him in the flower district and hardly know what to say. It was after she'd fallen in love with him after they'd not been able to see each other on a friendly basis, so it was disorienting to see his figure standing there on the sidewalk, purporting to be like anyone else's.
Rapture is a brief but thorough exploration of how alone and private we are, even when trying to open up to someone else. --Michael Ferch

From Publishers Weekly

Minot's new novella, set on the fringes of the film world, addresses one of her perennial themes, the different meaning men and women give to passion. Thirty-four-year-old Kay Bailey, a film production designer, has an affair with director Benjamin Young while they are shooting a film in Mexico. Benjamin, however, is engaged to Vanessa Crane, the girlfriend who has seen him through the ups and mostly downs of his filmmaking career. When Kay and Benjamin return to New York City, she tries to end the affair. But he is persistent, and what was casual becomes serious for Kay. All of this is narrated during one act of sex as, in alternating interior monologues, the two recall the events that have led to this moment. Engaged as they are, they do not speak; the landscape of their sex is entirely in their imaginations, and they could not imagine it more differently. While Kay comes to exalt the moment, Benjamin reveals himself as a cad, his life on the skids. Minot (Monkeys; Lust; Evening) has a great ear for the callow way people talk, scrupulously mimicking their groping thoughts and at times making a poetry of their inarticulateness: "She sort of sidewise conjured up a semidomestic arrangement tilting away from the totally conventional one she'd experienced with her parents." Moreover, Minot doesn't hide her characters' pretentiousness, as when Benjamin envisions his weak will as an "unfixable blot of doom" or Kay feels "altered in some big nameless way." All of which should add up to great satire, but Minot's novella is satiric only intermittently. She seems to take Kay's beatification seriously; even Benjamin is granted a cascade of sad and heroic images near his climax. The book is an odd amalgam, at times a smart satire, at times a way-we-live-now portrayal of 30-something life. Other times it just, well, sort of strains credibility. (Jan. 28)Forecast: The "he said, she said" premise is titillating, and readers will respond accordingly regardless of the critical reception. Some may grumble at the book's brevity, but the 60,000-copy first printing should sell out easily.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

There are flashbacks to help develop the characters and plot.
Susan Minot is accomplished in her technical and grammatical talents, but this story is wholly unoriginal and uninteresting.
M. DiSpirito
And yes, the story is told over the course of a single, sexual act and that's what made it so profound.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Joselle M. Palacios on February 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Susan Minot is one of my favorite writers mostly because her characters inhabit a world that seems so alluring and foreign to me. They are super-educated, rich (sometimes they struggle to make their low budget independent films), beautiful, thin, live in New York City, vacation in New England, Europe or the Carribean, have interesting, creative jobs, own fabulous wardrobes and Pottery Barn-like digs. But no one can seem to get their love lives in order. And therein lies the appeal and universality of Minot's writing. Rapture is the story of a man and a woman who at first rush to each other and then, just as quickly, flee from a relationship that has yet to begin. The main draw of this book for me were the raw, exquisitely crafted descriptions of love and desires lost. I identified too well with Kay who is at first wary of sleeping with the engaged Benjamin and when she finally does, he can't leave his fiance or Kay. He wants it both ways. She tries to keep her distance but eventually gives in and their twisted dance comes to a head. Anyone whose had screwy relationships will relate. But it is a novella and the details as to why and how these characters are what they are are mostly absent. Rapture does however searingly describe the contradictions and loneliness sometimes inherint in sex. Minot's comparison of lovers to warriors having just barely survived a battle isn't at all off the mark. A good read for tearing at old or fresh wounds.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Weaver on June 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Chalk is to cheese as men are to women.
The difference between the genders is put on full display in a new novel that is grabbing the attention of the book world.
Susan Minot's "Rapture" finds two former lovers, Benjamin and Kay, in the midst of a reunion.
In a decision that explains a lot of the fervor over her book, Minot sets the entire novel within this encounter, entering the characters' heads as they have sex, in the Bill Clinton definition of the word.
Two bodies can hardly be closer, while two minds couldn't be further apart.
Kay romanticizes the encounter, and thinks about her addiction to Benjamin, how she likes all the things about him that she isn't supposed to and even telling him that her act is an act of "worship."
Benjamin, meanwhile, seems distant during the whole thing, as he contemplates Vanessa, the woman he can't get out from under his skin and wonders what Kay is thinking.
While all of this is going on, Minot has the characters remember the chain of events that brought them together, as well as the reasons they broke up.
"Rapture" is a daring work, to be sure, and Minot takes her time in telling the story of Benjamin and Kay's relationship.
But there's something missing. We never really connect with her characters as they rendezvous.
Ben, in particular, seems like more of a jerk than anything for leading Kay on, and we wish Kay were not so stupid as to fall for him again.
Which is exactly Minot's point in showing the differences between the man and the woman, but it leaves the audience without someone to root for.
Still, "Rapture" is short in comparison to some of the other lengthy tomes currently rocking the literary world (Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections," for instance) and can easily be digested in one setting.
But readers will still be hungry after finishing it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rich Stoehr on July 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Is it possible to write a book in which a single sex act encompasses the entire story, and yet have that same book be about much more than sex? Susan Minot proves that it can be done in "Rapture."
Let's be clear here: "Rapture" is not a book about sex. At least, it's not only about sex, which seems to disappoint some readers, given the premise. It's also a book about relationships between men and women, about misunderstandings that can occur between them, about love and intimacy, about distance and disappointment. It's essentially about the things that can go right and wrong in a relationship, and about how very different one person's perspective can be from another's.
As "Rapture" opens, the reader observes a rendezvous between two former lovers, now together again unexpectedly, just beginning a sexual interlude. As it progresses, we are given insights into their past from the perspective of both the man and the woman, and we can see how each interprets the same events. Sometimes their take on their shared past is similar, but other times (more often), they see it in widely disparate ways.
As the act progresses towards its inevitable conclusion, the story takes surprising turns. While at least one aspect of the ending is somewhat predictable (how could it not be?), the tone and mood established by Minot's tale at that point give even that a new angle. What would likely be a trite and pithy conclusion in most authors' hands becomes refreshingly new again in Minot's treatment of it.
When all is said and done, "Rapture" is an insightful look at relationships and modern attitudes about love and intimacy, and at how sex can color one's view of these things in surprising ways. It is not intended to titillate its readers, but rather, to communicate to them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thor Vader on March 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I would agree with the other reviewers that said this book missed its mark. However, I still enjoyed it and am glad I read it. Here is why:
This novella is a very dark treatment of sexual relations and how difficult it is to surrender oneself to a single relationship of fidelity. The major characters are Kay and Benjamin, who go though their relationship that cannot exist. Why? Because Benjamin is engaged to another woman, Vanessa, that he really loves.
Where this book is successful is in exploring the "second guessings" that come with people knowing they are bad for each other... but still craving each others flesh. Minot's writing leaves no question that the characters are connected in a type of love... just not the kind that can go anywhere. Thus, it is an intensely frustrating experience trying to follow them through the encounter that is the backdrop to the story ---> a session of oral sex that will most likely be their last.
Where this story failed for me, is that it seemed to short-schrift the sexual tension. I have never been so unimpressed with a b.j. in my life... yet that is the premise of what the characters "rapture" is. Thus, it sets up a sexuality that is never delivered on, and has a very dark take on relationships.
Again, I certainly understand why people were disappointed... yet I did enjoy it, and would recommend it to those prone to helplessness and dark stories.
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More About the Author

Susan Minot is an award-winning novelist and short story writer whose books include Monkeys, Folly, Lust & Other Stories, and Evening, which was adapted into the feature film of the same name starring Meryl Streep. Minot was born in Boston and raised in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, attended Brown University, and received her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. She currently lives with her daughter in both New York City and an island off the coast of Maine.

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