Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life Hardcover – November 15, 2011
|New from||Used from|
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Three incompatible players vie for attention in the book's 300 pages: the author, Ann Beattie; the husband of the woman first mentioned in the title, Richard Nixon; and the ostensible subject of the book, Pat Nixon. Each of these persons is known for practicing a kind of obscurantism, by which I mean deliberately preventing the facts or full details of something from becoming known. For Beattie this has been an aesthetic choice. The writer Jay McInerney once described Beattie's preferred style as "a refusal to overdetermine her characters, a reluctance to explain their behavior." For President Nixon the withholding of information was a practice that dragged him ultimately to the brink of impeachment. For his wife Pat Nixon this behavior was an emotional defense, how she chose to preserve personal dignity in the face of prying inquisitors.
So what have these three jousting protagonists created? In the judgment of most readers who've posted reviews, the result is an odd, unstable, and ultimately dissatisfying book. Beattie, the ringleader, comes across as showy and self-indulgent. Nixon emerges as self-pitying, a boor to be around. And Pat Nixon? Even with all the creative forces at her disposal, Beattie fails to inspire the First Lady to escape her comfort zone. Mrs. Nixon remains, at book's end, an enigma.
What's to like about MRS. NIXON? Answers come from some professional critics who say the book is an interesting literary concoction, unclassifiable, genre-bending, playful and polymorphous, and unlike anything Beattie's written before. But notice how these descriptions avoid answering the question of whether the book is a worthwhile read.Read more ›
In fact, I originally borrowed this book from the library, and I looked it up on Amazon because I'm going to order copies to give to all my writer friends. I'll be reading this book again.
Boring and self-indulgent.
But most of the negative reviews just focus on the obvious. Ann Beattie is too lazy to create any new characters, so she just pastes together a few excerpts from books already published about Richard and Pat Nixon. And she includes a whole bunch of unconnected snippets about her favorite short stories, and vague and generalized guidelines on the art of fiction that sound like she just photocopied her old lecture notes from her day job at University of Virginia. And she name drops shamelessly, promoting her old buddies and endlessly plugging the NEW YORKER. And it's all done in this really languid, arrogant, entitled way, like, "yeah, I'm phoning it in. But I'm SOMEBODY. Who are you, anyway?"
But after reading the whole book from beginning to end, I think I have an inkling of the real meaning of this "novel," if you can call it that. It's ugly and it stinks right to the top!
What Ann Beattie has done is to slip inside Mrs. Nixon's skin, not in order to show compassion for Pat and Dick, (though she makes vague, fake gestures in that direction from time to time) but primarily to take cheap shots at the Student Left, the Anti War movement, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, feminism, basically the whole nine yards.
Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
Nobody has profited more from the Baby Boom mystique than Ann Beattie. All of her early stories celebrate the spacy, self-indulgent vibe of her generation. Her sweet-natured debut novel CHILLY SCENES OF WINTER even features a swoony, vaguely feminine guy who obsesses over Janis Joplin. (Note to Ann: was Jimi Hendrix not good enough? Or just the wrong color?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Demands a readership perceptive beyond that of the usual best-seller pap we see on the NYTimes lists . . .Published 16 months ago by Robert W. Hill
Ann Beattie should stick to fiction!!! I didn't even finish this piece of c$&p!
Maybe she has better luck if she would stick to what she knows.
Could not finish this. WHat a self-indulgent waste of paper and ink.Published on August 17, 2014 by Georgia
I only gave it a star so I could write a review. I can't finish the book -- it's awful. And yet in reading all the reviews, I get a better picture of Pat Nixon than I did reading... Read morePublished on December 17, 2013 by Jane L. Grau
I'm only halfway through, but I must say this book is really taking me a long time to read. You get a nugget of information on Pat Nixon and then the book goes on these long... Read morePublished on May 5, 2012 by tovah