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Carry the One: A Novel Hardcover – March 6, 2012

3.2 out of 5 stars 221 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Beautifully observed . . . [Anshaw] intimately dissects how one event or choice can alter the trajectory of a life, how a fork in the road can lead to wholly unexpected and divergent outcomes . . . a resonate 'Big Chill'-like look at how time affects relationships. . . . Though the novel grapples with the many sadnesses of life . . . it does so with lyricism and humor. . . . We are pulled along by [Anshaw's] uncommon ability to describe just about anything. . . . As the years unfurl in this affecting novel, memories of the accident that took Casey Redman's life receed, but the fallout from that night has been internalized by everyone involved, invisibly shaping their outlook on the world, their feelings about love and responsibility and regret.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Graceful and compassionate . . . Writing with rueful wit and a subtle understanding of the currents and passions that rule us, Anshaw demonstrates that struggling to do one's best, whatever the circumstances, makes for a life of consequence.”People magazine, 4 stars

“If you love Jonathan Franzen, you’ll love this compelling book.”Entertainment Weekly (Bullseye)

“Carol Anshaw is one of those authors who should be a household name (in literature-loving homes, anyway). There's a good chance that her latest novel, Carry the One, will make that happen . . . fine, eloquent.”USA Today

“Moving and engaging . . . funny, smart and closely observed . . . explores the way tragedy can follow hard on celebration, binding people together even more lastingly than passion. . . . Anshaw gives readers the reward of paying close attention to ordinary people as [she] illuminates flawed, likeable characters with sympathy and truth.”—Sylvia Brownrigg, The New York Times Book Review

Sentence by intelligent sentence, the novelist makes . . . us feel the remorse and joy and fears much more sharply than we can sometimes know those same emotions in the lives of our closest siblings or friends or even in ourselves. . . . Carol Anshaw gets under the skin of her characters and under the reader's, as well.”—Alan Cheuse, NPR’s “All Things Considered

“Although Anshaw has long been a literary milestone-maker, her pioneering is the least of her accomplishments. Anshaw is that rare, brilliant, witty writer whose prose is rich and buttery and whose plotting is as well-conceived and seamlessly executed as that of the most intricate thriller. Her psychological insights lend exceptional depth to her characters, who are so painfully and hilariously recognizable that we cannot turn from the familiarity of their circumstances and their flaws.”Chicago Tribune

“A brilliant feat of storytelling . . . one of the most intensely vibrant novels I've ever read. . . . This book is that kind of pearl."—Susan Straight, The Boston Globe

“Compulsively readable . . . subtle and seductive . . . a novel with the sweep of a family saga and the compressed gleam of a short story.”Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Provocative . . . her style is dead-on. What makes this a good book is the way the characters change and interact over time.”Dallas Morning News

“Superb.”Financial Times

“The eloquence of Anshaw's prose approaches poetry, and her haunting novel lingers in the memory.”Buffalo News

“[Anshaw] writes extravagantly well. She has a remarkable ear for dialogue, for the cutting remark, for the beautifully phrased and telling detail. She paints an acid-dipped and spot-on portrait of the American obsession with self. . . . Skillfully rendered.”Washington Post

“Even though the book explores the lives of the characters for more than two decades, the narrative is well pacedit is never too brisk nor does it get bogged down in wordy explanations. Anshaw deftly handles the passage of time, the interior lives of her compelling characters, and the specter of Casey’s death as they all move away from it and on with their lives. There is humor, sadness, heartbreak, intelligence and compassion here. It’s an outstanding and beautiful story of guilt, family, love, and both the healing and damage the years can bring.”—Bookreporter.com

"Anshaw has a deft touch with the events of ordinary life, giving them heft and meaning. . . . Funny, touching, knowing . . . a quiet, lovely, genuine accomplishment."Publishers Weekly (boxed starred review)

“Masterful in her authenticity, quicksilver dialogue, wise humor, and receptivity to mystery, Anshaw has
created a deft and transfixing novel of fallibility and quiet glory.”Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

“Anshaw deftly depicts family ties broken and reconnected, portraying the best and the worst of this group of eccentrics. Recommended for readers of well-crafted literary fiction.”Library Journal

“Sharply observed and warmly understanding—another fine piece of work from this talented author.”Kirkus Reviews

“Here's passion and addiction, guilt and damage, all the beautiful mess of family life. Carry the One will lift readers off their feet and bear them along on its eloquent tide.”—Emma Donoghue, author of Room

“Reading this book, I felt like I was watching someone cross a tightrope with the same relaxed, assured stride they would use on solid ground. Anshaw is in such graceful command that her story about three gifted, wounded siblings almost doesn’t feel like fiction. The traumatic accident that derails the characters’ lives as young adults is a sort of echo of the childhood damage they’ve already lived through. The ways that they do and don’t survive this are variously tragic, stark, and beautiful, but always utterly convincing. Along the way, the generous Anshaw doles out psychological acuity, antic humor, cultural critique and profound wisdom as the merest casual asides. It can’t be as effortless as she makes it look, but it’s a pleasure to soar with her, for a while, on that high wire.”—Alison Bechdel, author of Fun Home

“This deceptively casual novel is both intimate and mysterious, frank and elusive, full of the stuff of life—love, lust, drugs, dogs, marriage, children, divorce, art, prisons, and politics—while haunted every shimmering page of the way by the death of a young girl, whose ghostly presence poses one of this novel’s compelling questions: how can we disentangle old knots when new ones are being tied with every passing day?”—Scott Spencer, author of Man in the Woods and Endless Love

“Featuring Carol Anshaw's trademark warmth, wit and erotic subtlety, Carry the One is loopy and funny, sad and complex. Painterly, lifelike, it provides grownup pleasure.”—James McManus, author of Positively Fifth Street

“It’s my birthday and the phone rings and I don’t want to answer because I am reading Carol Anshaw’s Carry the One, and how can reality compare?”—Nicole Hollander, creator of “Sylvia”

“A laser-focused, compulsively readable tale of chance and fate with a big brain, sharp tongue, and huge heart. . . . This book is undeniably hip, but it’s not the hip of Urban Outfitters knit caps or fixed gear bicycles. Carry the One has its finger on the pulse of the . . . human condition. That’s what makes it hip with superpowers. That’s what makes it the platonic ideal of cool.”Kit Steinkellner, bookriot.com

“Anshaw has a way of writing that nails the psychology of humans. She explores the complicated relationships between men and women, sister and brother, mother and daughter, by breaking wide open inhibitions, those sticky boundaries that hold us back and that pesky fear business that keeps us hiding in our closets. . . . It is intense, sweet, honest, and hopeful, all at the same time.”—redheadedbookchild.com

About the Author

Carol Anshaw is the author of Aquamarine, Seven Moves, and Lucky in the Corner. She has received the Ferro-Grumley Award, the Carl Sandburg Literary Arts Award for Fiction, and a National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. She lives in Chicago.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781451636888
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451636888
  • ASIN: 1451636881
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,157,830 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Julie Merilatt VINE VOICE on March 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When I first read the Amazon product description of this book, "Carry the One begins in the hours following Carmen's wedding reception, when a car filled with stoned, drunk, and sleepy guests accidently hits and kills a girl on a dark, country road," I was a little nervous. Is this going to be another treatment of I Know What You Did Last Summer, or worse, the insufferably boring Red Hook Road? To my great relief, it was really more about Carmen and her siblings Alice and Nick and their little Chicago-based (woot!) universe. As they orbit, their ellipses stretch them far from each other but bring them back together over the next twenty-five year years (this is a bit of a nudge at Nick's quasi-career in astronomy).

The accident itself is a mere shadow on the life of each individual involved, it does not dominate it. It subtly peeks at them during various stages of their lives, like artist Alice completing a series of paintings of the victim or Nick developing a relationship with the dead girl's mother as his own form of penance. The accident is not an excuse for their behavior or the outcome of their lives, but rather a factor in choices they made.

The writing itself was elegant and conveyed atmosphere. The conclusion outlined the paths that each character would continue down, but there was a lack of finality. I wouldn't call it unresolved, but open-ended in a way that let me know that the characters would continue on with their lives in the same vein that they lived them during the narrative. Overall, I felt it was a well-written character study that illustrated the interconnectedness of individuals and events effectively.

I won a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via BookRiot.
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Format: Hardcover
I want to say that I finished "Carry the one" in one sitting- but I didn't. Instead, I chose to savor it over the course of a few days. This is the kind of novel that you read, set down on your lap and just think. Think about what the words are really saying, what the meaning really is, how it applies to you. Now, I am not necessarily the deapest person and will take a mindbending thriller or YA dystopian novel over any of our great early literature. But this novel was so deep and spoke to me on so many levels, that I could not stop thinking about it.

The brief synopsis is above- a group of young people are affected by a small child that they hit and killed. The novels details their lives over many years and incorporate many huge historical events. This of this like Forest Gump- a fun detailing of real events told as a saga over many many years. But instead of funny Forest that did unbelievable things, this is a very believable story about a group of characters that I absolutely loved.

When I finished the novel, I actually said out loud- this is the bible for liberalists everywhere! I felt the urge to burn my bra and felt great to be an open minded woman. But then, I realized that that characterization might scare off the people that really should read it! Which is all of us. Liberal or conservative- if you open your mind and read this, you can relate to the characters. We are all detailed in this book in one way or another- regardless of social class, sexual preference, moral beliefs- this book detailed what we are at the core. Humans in search of love filled with vulnerabilities that want to do right.

Carol Anshaw, you did right by writing this book. It should be required reading.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This beautiful and tenderhearted book (all her books are tenderhearted, even at their most drily ironic) joins elegance of structure with a subtle, oblique scrutiny of the dissimilar trajectories through adulthood of three emotionally interdependent siblings, and the friends and lovers who were involved in the terrible accident that ends the first chapter. The magic is declared in the book's title: it describes both the device by which the reader journeys from chapter to chapter, and the special sort of narrative time-travel (skipping whole years in a single leap) that allows us to experience a quarter century of growing up (or failing to do so) for the many characters in this story. I thought Anshaw performed an amazing feat in the unobtrusive, restrained way she gave life to the one character who was robbed of her future right at the start of the book. In the last chapter, Anshaw gives us (or I should say, Olivia, who alone did time for the child's death, and is rendered as an especially closed, opaque personality) a small miracle, a consoling touch whose mystery has been fully earned over the length of the story. Alice, the sister who paints, is a surrogate for the novelist, who captures, and blesses her human creatures (and a couple of dogs) with a patient accumulation of small, attentive touches. Anshaw's books are all about family (even when the family is broken or--as in this book--frayed), about the mismatch between love and passion, and about the rueful, sometimes anxious acknowledgement that we're hopelessly fallible. They're also about the mysteries of time. In Anshaw's world, art (the writer's art especially) is redemptive--and the writing is pitch-perfect.
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