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Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life Hardcover – November 15, 2011
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“Beattie has created a resplendent paean to the pleasures of the literary imagination , and a riveting and mischievous, revealing and revitalizing portrait of an overlooked woman.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections, in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century, and in Jennifer Egan’s The Best American Short Stories 2014. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She was the Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. She is a member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Maine and Key West, Florida.
Top customer reviews
Beattie's work is a pursuit toward understanding the woman behind the public image. I don't know that she accomplished that in this book, but she did raise a number of questions, and she certainly explored the task of a writer, and how fictionalized versions of known people are uniquely challenging.
Toward the end, she welcomes us onto her porch in Maine, and then gives us a few snippets to ponder:
"Public figures are easy, because they're on display. You have to catch them in a private moment to really know something. To know Mrs. Nixon in her early days on the farm, and then as a college student in California, as someone on the campaign trail, in the White House, behind the walls of La Casa Pacifica, in New York City, and in Saddle River, N.J., would of course reveal different Mrs. Nixons. We're all changed by time and context."
"Mrs. Nixon didn't make it easy for a writer to write about her--nor was that any obligation....Occasionally a photograph betrayed her true emotions, but she did not confirm or deny what anyone perceived. She didn't let us have a lot of information through words...It seems obvious to me now that she puzzled herself...To overcome misfortune, Mrs. Nixon became a person who would try things, and would persevere--quite possibly, it was a mode on which she overrelied....
Parts of the book were tedious to me, and somewhat confusing, in that they were presented as if they were fact, and then they turned out to be imaginings. A clever device, but it did halt my progress and occasionally frustrate me. I'm giving this book three stars. However, for the truly fascinated student of this iconic woman, I would recommend muddling through.
One thing I did notice, on the chapter where she writes about using real people in works of fiction, she mentions Joyce Carol Oates' novel "Marilyn", about the life of Marilyn Monroe. The book is actually titled "Blonde". I have to admit, that error really surprised me.
Other than that, this is a fascinating look at an enigmatic figure in our recent history.
Most recent customer reviews
Maybe she has better luck if she would stick to what she knows.
But most of the negative reviews just focus on the obvious.Read more