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The Nobodies Album Paperback – June 14, 2011
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Before I’d ever written a novel, I imagined that authors must be able to point to two dates on the calendar and say, "Here’s when I began writing this book, and here’s when I finished it." I knew that the middle part--everything in between the moment when you sit down with a blank page and the moment when you type "The End"--was going to be murky. But I figured that this much, at least--the calculation of how long you spent working on it--would be clear.
As it turns out, I was wrong. The layering of questions and images and half-phrases that eventually coalesces into the seed of a novel is subtle and complicated and begins before you commit to a single word. And, as I probably should have known, the work doesn’t end the day you turn the manuscript over to your editor. The day of publication, at least, serves as a convenient endpoint. Finally, the author can say, "Okay. I’ve done all I can. Time to move on." At least, that’s what I always thought.
Then I heard a story about an author who had made the decision to revise a short story she’d written more than thirty years earlier. The story had been published, anthologized, taught in university classes... and she’d decided it wasn’t finished, after all. Honestly, I found the idea unsettling. I was a little annoyed with the writer in question for opening a door that I had assumed to be closed.
But like it or not, the idea stayed with me. Soon I had a premise--what would happen if a writer decided to change the endings to every one of her books?--and in that premise, there was a character whose desires and motivations were opaque enough that I wanted to figure them out. I was already thinking about the novels this author might have written, and how I would construct their last chapters: An epidemic which wipes out people’s memories, but only the bad ones. A survivor of the Titanic finds himself haunted by strange images appearing in the cartoons he draws. A ghost-mother wages a custody battle between the living and the dead. I was already wondering: Why is she doing this? Does she think she can rewrite her past? Or is she hoping to create a new ending for her own future?
I began writing The Nobodies Album the day I heard that news story. Or else it was the day I saw the first sentence in my head and typed the words onto a page: There are some stories no one wants to hear. Or maybe the day when I realized that there was going to be a murder to solve. I can’t really say.
As for when I’ll be finished with the story? It remains to be seen. --Carolyn Parkhurst
(Photo © Marion Ettlinger)
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
The framework that sort of houses the multi-layered story is somewhat of a murder mystery. It's not the strongest part of the story (in my opinion) but definitely works to house the rest of the story: What's most important ... the relating and the relationships.
Olivia Frost, a fairly successful author, has decided that her 8th novel should be new endings for her previous seven books. She's estranged from her rock-star son, until he's accused of murder, and they have tragedy in their family history. The details of their past, and snippets of each of the "alternate endings" are woven throughout the book.
Reading the "endings" was like having short stories in the midst of a novel, and though I hated being jarred out of the main story, I really enjoyed those parts and as with most short stories, they were over just as I was wishing there was more.
Parkhurst does grief and family dynamics so well. There are scenes between the mother and son that are so relatable to me, I felt she could have plucked them right out of my own dialog. There's darkness and sadness, and a little bit of humor.
The writing is great, and as with Parkhurst's previous novels, she really creates atmosphere and emotion. It's a really fast-paced read.
I enjoyed it immensely, and will now begin the wait for Parkhurt's next, and hoping it won't be a terribly long wait.
Centered around a famous novelist Octavia Frost, "The Nobodies Album" explores her troubled relationship with her son Milo. When Milo, a renowned alt-rocker in San Francisco, discovers his fiancée brutally murdered after a night in which he has blacked out--he finds himself the prime suspect in the international media circus that follows. Having been estranged from Milo for many years, Octavia sees this as a chance for reconnection and redemption. The two share a difficult past, their relationship never having fully recovered from the accidental death of Octavia's husband and daughter. And it is the tentative progress of their bond that propels the heart of Parkhurst's story.
The grand success of "The Nobodies Album" rests on the character of Octavia Frost. Maddening and emotionally distant, it is her struggle to try to put the past into a meaningful context that drives the narrative. In alternate chapters, we are treated to various excerpts from her past novels in addition to their newly revised endings.Read more ›
Character development, quirky and original plots, and simply beautiful writing are the prizes waiting for readers of Parkhurst.
I adore all three of Parkhurst's books, and I recommend them with virtual applause.
The overarching narrative, when you get back to it again and again, is a story of estrangement, misunderstanding, reconciliation and forgiveness. But it is also a super-hokey mystery with pretty flimsy coincidences and silly clues. A sugar bowl that contains a hand-written note that states "Someone is lying." Ms. Frost's high school friend who just happens to be a friend of the murdered victim's mother and just happens to sneak Ms. Frost inside. A cemetery that can't be located until it is. Bumbling idiot police detectives. On the one hand, there is a lot of authentic self-examination of motherhood on the part of Ms. Frost's character. And undoubtedly, Carolyn Parkhurst is a great writer. But for me, the frequent (and lengthy) interruptions of the re-written novels and the Scooby-doo-esque mystery diminished from the novel as a whole.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Carolyn Parkhurst is a a force to be reckoned with. This book has everything I love: A murder mystery, rock n roll, and a writer at the root of it all.Published 2 months ago by Staci L. Wilson
Years ago, Olivia Frost’s daughter and husband died in an accident, and she struggled to bring up her son Milo alone. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Linda Pagliuco
A unique murder mystery novel with a unique back story. Several novels within a novel as the main character, a best selling novelist, decides to rewrite the end of all her... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Carmen Myritis-Garcia
The premise piqued my interest and Parkhurst's writing held it. Octavia Frost has decided to rewrite the endings of each of her previous novels of loss. Read morePublished 20 months ago by BHB
This is well written and an interesting premise, but I still feel that Carolyn Parkhurst has not surpassed her amazing first novel, The Dogs of Babel.Published 20 months ago by Deborah
I read Dogs of Babel..and was so excited for this book..it's almost like 2 different authors... very disappointing.. struggled to finish it..Published 21 months ago by Shana Spier
This one lived up to or even exceeded the rave reviews I read. It's innovative and compelling. It made me seek out others by Parkhurst and eagerly await more.Published 23 months ago by Shelley K. Simcox