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A Theory of Small Earthquakes Paperback – January 24, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for A Theory of Small Earthquakes

"Maran explores the vagaries of love and the true nature of family in this debut novel." —People

"Call it Two Women, One Man and a Baby. Maran’s take on the modern family
is at once unexpected and totally relatable." —Ladies' Home Journal

"This tender, timely story reminds us we don’t need to read historical fiction to find novels about marriage; in fact, we need novels like A Theory of Small Earthquakes to help us understand the history same-sex marriage is making today.” —The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

"A family's world is irrevocably rocked when an old female lover from Mom's past reappears, in Meredith Maran's sexy, audacious, politically charged, and sure-to-be-talked about first novel, A Theory of Small Earthquakes. Ah, l'amour, l'amour." —Vanity Fair

"Meredith Maran is a powerful storyteller with a big heart and a big talent." —Terry McMillan, author of Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back

"This intriguing, timely yarn gracefully brings up a number of provocative topical issues, most importantly the changing dynamics of what it means to be a family. Maran’s novel effectively reminds us that this possible seismic social shift is really less a "hot topic" than a question of deeply human needs." —The Boston Globe

"A fictional parenting triangle that challenges assumptions." —Reader's Digest

"A love story that had me in tears at the end. Maran has written a thoughtful, moving, honest novel that is simultaneously personal and political." —Kate Christensen, author of The Astral and The Great Man

"Meredith Maran’s dazzling debut is a provocative, funny, and deeply moving look at the ties that bind—and sometimes strangle—and the ways we struggle for the love we yearn for. I adored this novel." —Caroline Leavitt, author of Pictures of You

"Funny, lively, political, personal, nostalgic, touching, A Theory of Small Earthquakes deftly chronicles love and its various meanings. I enjoyed it greatly." —Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling and The Ten-Year Nap

"A smart, sexy, funny, wrenching, delicious story of lust and trust and love and family." —Anne Lamott, author of Imperfect Birds and Bird by Bird

"Any woman who has ever struggled against the odds to keep her family running smoothly will identify with complex, authentic, paradoxical Alison Rose, whose redemption is at stake in this marvelous novel. A Theory Of Small Earthquakes teaches us something new about love and sex, jealousy and loyalty, and also, and perhaps most importantly, motherhood. Meredith Maran’s first novel is a powerful debut that left me waiting impatiently for her second." —Ayelet Waldman, author of Red Hook Road and Bad Mother

"In this groundbreaking novel, Meredith Maran has told a story few writers, if any, have explored: of a woman drawn to two lovers and two distinct worlds, and of the unlikely family she creates, with two extraordinarily different partners, each of whom speaks to a different aspect of her desire. With rare honesty and courage, Maran asks us to consider whether sexuality can be defined by preference for one gender or the other, or if—as this blunt story proposes—it is shifting and sometimes stormy as the tides." —Joyce Maynard, author of The Good Daughters and At Home in the World


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press; Original edition (January 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593764308
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593764302
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,392,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

"A family's world is irrevocably rocked when an old female lover from Mom's past reappears, in Meredith Maran's sexy, audacious, politically charged, and sure-to-be-talked-about first novel, A THEORY OF SMALL EARTHQUAKES. Ah, l'amour, l'amour."--Vanity Fair, February 2012

"A THEORY OF SMALL EARTHQUAKES by Meredith Maran: a fictional parenting triangle that challenges assumptions."--Reader's Digest, February 2012

"Meredith Maran's wonderful new novel, A THEORY OF SMALL EARTHQUAKES, is what Franzen's Freedom would be, if it were free."--Rebecca Walker

I could not put A THEORY OF SMALL EARTHQUAKES down. Even with my eyes practically crossing at 2am, I had to know what was going to happen! And I found the ending -- the ambiguity of it -- very satisfying, even though I wanted to know more. It was true to life, painful, beautifully done. Very strong, believable characters who I won't soon forget.--Dani Shapiro

Meredith Maran is a book critic whose reviews appear in People, Salon, the Boston Globe, and the San Francisco Chronicle, an award-winning journalist, and the author of several bestselling nonfiction books, including Class Dismissed and What It's Like To Live Now. The mother of two sons and grandmother of the cutest baby on earth, she lives in Oakland with her wife. A Theory of Small Earthquakes is her first novel.

To reach Meredith:
meredith@meredithmaran.com
On Twitter: @meredithmaran

For more information:
http://www.meredithmaran.com/TheoryofSmallEarthquakes.htm

Author photo ©Lisa Keating Photography

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've read every book Meredith Maran has written, and I've long been captivated by her ability to tell stories. Her passion and energy, balanced with a clear-eyed perspective, are evident on every page. So I've eagerly awaited publication of this, her first novel. I wasn't disappointed -- A Theory of Small Earthquakes is everything I hoped it would be and more. Like a number of recent books (The Art of Fielding, for one), this novel deals with complicated relationships between complex characters who won't be boxed into rigid sexual categories. It takes a hard look at what it means to be a family, and forces us to confront our own preconceptions about why and how people find each other. More importantly, it's a great read! Buy this book -- you won't be disappointed.
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I first started reading Meredith Maran when I was twenty. I loved her writing and getting to know her through her personal memoir,
"What It's like to live Now." The first of many books by this epic writer over the years. Her new book, "A Theory of Small Earthquakes," defines a whole new generation. This fictional debut of author Meredith Maran will be an all night page turner for hard core fans. It is a love story that challenges the normal boundaries of gay and straight relationships. It will be enjoyed by all who read it. I loved reading about what life was like in the eighties . This is a new classic love story for generations to come. It really makes one contemplate what constitutes a family today. This particular story was well worth the wait and the end will leave you speechless.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Much is made of the problem of the unlikable protagonist. There is even an academic theory about it: students gravitate towards books in which they can identify with the main character. The presumption is that they can best relate to characters who are flawed but lovable. Alison, the protagonist of "A Theory of Small Earthquakes" is not likable. She's certainly better than her mother, whom we meet in grating flashbacks. We learn that Alison lost her beloved father and endured abuse by her mother, so her behavior is not without motivation. But, the fact remains that she is inherently selfish and hypocritical. Even though she has a profound relationship with a woman, she bails when she just can't deal with the gay family issue. She lies to her husband about a major life event, and she thinks nothing of using her ex as a surrogate for her son.

And, yet, I loved this book. I loved the affectionate skewering of lesbian politics and the Berkeley lifestyle, I love watching GLBTQ history unfold through the span of the characters' lives, and I loved the insight into one woman's choices. It has me looking twice at people I know, wondering if they've done similar things. (I don't have to look far to find a few real world examples.) Did I love Alison? No. I'm not sure I understood the doormat ways of Zoe and Mark. But I loved being invited into their world. It was a real pleasure.
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Format: Paperback
Maran inspires with this novel of growing up, making choices, and living with the choices you've made. From start to end, her main character pulls you in and takes you through a plethora of emotions. You're angry with her, you're happy for her, you want her to win, and finally you love her. I believe that anyone can relate with this story, and I'm proud of Maran, being that this is her first novel, her baby. Congrats!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
And did you get what you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the earth.

The Raymond Carver poem "Late Fragment" is a favorite of Alison Rose, the main character in Meredith Maran's spectacular novel, A Theory of Small Earthquakes. When Alison joins a "Feminist Transformations" seminar at Oberlin College in the mid-1980s, she finds herself immediately drawn to Zoe, a free-spirited artist who awakes in Alison the desire to be loved and protected, but also brings back memories and fears that stemmed from her fractious relationship with her mother. Alison and Zoe move to Berkeley after Alison's graduation, and they build a life together.

But when the Loma Prieta earthquake occurs in 1989, it exposes many of the cracks in their relationship, which magnified as they struggled to have a child. Alison settles into a more "normal" relationship with Mark, and they quickly have a son, Corey. Several months after Corey is born, Alison encounters Zoe again, and although she feels some initial betrayal, Zoe becomes a vital part of all of their lives, helping raise Corey and serving as a "goddessmother" counterpoint to Alison and Mark. But Alison is never completely comfortable in her life--she's never sure exactly what or who she wants, she's afraid that some of her secrets will be exposed, and most of all, she fears losing those she loves, even as her behavior often pushes them away.

A Theory of Small Earthquakes is a novel about love, family, parenthood, and being comfortable in your life, but it also is a tremendously fascinating reflection on the many different forms a family can take.
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