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A Body at Rest Paperback – January 25, 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 79 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A Body at Rest has some good moments. Martha, the narrator, is a character a lot of young women can identify with. She is 27, a college graduate but working as a cocktail waitress until she realizes she wants more from life. She is a well written character as is her best friend Nina, also a cocktail waitress who has a habit of dating married men. Both of them are well developed characters and their decision to take a road trip could be quite interesting. My only problem with the excerpt is that the author seems to underestimate the intelligence of the reader and goes out of its way to explain book and movie references. The author should just put them in there with no explanation and let the reader figure it out. A Body at Rest looks to be a pretty good novel. -- Amazon Top Reviewer

This light fantasy positions itself at the conceptual crossroads of two literary classic novels, an essay and a movie: Emma, Don Quixote, A Room of One's Own, and Field of Dreams. The twenty-seven year-old protagonist, Martha Andrevsky, agrees with Emma's skepticism about the institution of marriage. She's put off by the apparent ubiquity of infidelity and bothered by older couples who ignore each other. Martha has tired of her quasi-adolescent existence, but has no firm alternative in mind. She and roommate Nina Lozzaro, book-loving restaurant servers, are stagnating in Cleveland among low-tipping goosers, so they take a road trip to Iowa to wish for remarkable lives in "a very sincere cornfield." Performing the vaguest of enchantment rituals, they pull for "optimism and idealism to win out over logic and reason." After this incident an absurdist reality drives the story. Martha and Nina leave the nondescript sticks to search Davenport's mean streets (okay, the only mean street), for a tattoo parlor. Freshly inked with representations of their respective heroes, Emma Woodhouse and Don Quixote, the two gradually acquire distinctive speech patterns and mannerisms. Their conversations are quite consciously reference-laden like Dennis Miller chain riffs, as if such stylized communication could add retroactive value to their unutilized liberal arts skills--an admirable but impossible dream. The book's plotting and general execution isn't on par with the superior premise. -- manuscript review by Publishers Weekly, an independent organization

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Drinian Press (January 25, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982060912
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982060919
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,642,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Linda Bulger VINE VOICE on February 13, 2008
"A Body at Rest" gets off to a great start when young cocktail waitress Martha fends off a groping drunk by quoting Macbeth. Martha and her friend Nina are suddenly tired of wasting their lives and expensive educations serving drinks in a tavern, so they turn in their aprons and hit the road.

Author Susan Petrone weaves literary references through her story, kicking it up a notch from the usual road trip novel. The writing is crisp and funny, the characters believable. According to the synopsis the two young women are set to take on literary personas and ... well, we'll have to wait to find out since the excerpt ended way too soon!

I'm enjoying the literary scavenger hunt and the smart dialogue. We've got a lot of back-story on the characters and we know they are looking for something more meaningful in life. Now we're ready to roll and I'd like to see the plot get up to cruising speed.

Here's hoping that Petrone is able to keep the writing fresh and the references relevant, as she has done so far. It's not always easy to stay consistent in a first-person novel but Martha has a lot to say and a great smart-mouth way of saying it, so my money's on this one!

Linda Bulger, 2008
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I was drawn into this excerpt from A Body at Rest from the first sentence (not in small part because that sentence evoked some very specific and not terribly-distant memories). Although I can (proudly) say the direct correlation with my own personal experiences didn't quite last until the end of the second sentence, the rest of it did continue to resonate, albeit in a slightly more abstract manner.

From the beginning, I love the style of the narrative: it has a sense of easy eloquence that is mixed with just a touch of something that may be slightly manic. This gives the piece the cadence that allows it to successfully take its initial exposition and transform it to a fun (if slightly twisted) take on the road-trip-as-self-realization.

The characters of Nina and Martha work quite well in the excerpt. They are neither exactly matched nor greatly mismatched, which should hopefully lead to more interesting (and less stereotypical) characterizations and interactions when given time to develop in the full work.

As an aside, I'd be interested to know exactly when the author first conceived this piece: some descriptions (places and atmospheres, particularly) feel like they closer to the Midwest of the mid-90's rather than present day. The variety of references in the excerpt (literary, television, pop culture) don't force its setting to any specific date as far as I can tell, and I'm sure this is something that is explored in the book. (Frankly, my 1990's estimate may be no more than reading the mention of Kurt Vonnegut in the narrative's present-progressive tense and fondly remembering when he was still spry in his brilliant anger.
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Almost anyone over the age of 21 has experienced what it is like to be in a smoky bar while it is jammed with people, and I think most of us have witnessed at least one waitress grope in our time spent there. And, if you are like me, you always wanted to know how they could stand working in such an environment for more than a few minutes. By opening the story with that common experience, the author lets the reader connect almost instantly with the story. To use a quote from Shakespeare was just an added bonus.

When I first read the synopsis, I was a little worried about a "Thelma & Louise" knock off, but that wasn't even close to being the case. The story is an interesting look at two women who need to change their lives and their perspectives on life.

The writing is, for the most part, clear concise and well done. There were several run on sentences; one in particular grated on my nerves. Found on the first page: "For me, that moment came on a hot, humid Saturday night in mid-August, a time when the breeze off Lake Erie is just a damp mass that sticks to your clothes and your hair and your face and everyone in Cleveland who can't afford to take a vacation is cranky and you need something to happen to break the monotony and remind you that you're still alive."

Finding several mistakes in an excerpt is to be expected, and that does not detract from the wonderful story and the very capable writing. I expect to be seeing this in store shelves in the not to distant future!
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This excerpt springs to life in its first sentence: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that the biggest drunk at the table will hit on the cocktail waitress." Martha and Nina spring to life, too, via their sprightly dialogue. I laughed out loud at the `bloody cryptic' exchange. "A Body at Rest" is a female buddy novel--"Thelma and Louise" without the bloodshed (at least in the excerpt). It also sets a much higher tone than the movie.

After all, Louise's first line was, "Decaf or regular?" but Martha starts off by quoting "Macbeth:" "Drink provokes the desire but takes away the performance."

Not to say that this excerpt is stuffy. It's not. It would be fun to go bowling with these two would-be gypsies. The author's characterization is rock-solid and built mainly through the dialogue. The only place where my attention lagged was in the five-paragraph narrative biographies of these two friends, plopped into the text at the beginning of their trip. Do the readers really need to know the details of Martha and Nina's early life at this point in the narrative? How about working their college educations (at least) into the conversation with the `waitron,' who brings up her own college story? Just a suggestion.

By the way, `waitron' was the only word I had to look up in this excerpt. The `NY Times' says `server' prevailed over `waitron' as a gender-neutral term for waiter or waitress, so why not use `server?' Just a thought. I assumed `waitron' was a misspelling until I encountered it the second time.

Okay, now that I've criticized the author for using unfamiliar terms, I'm going to complain about overly familiar modifiers.
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