Someone- Alice McDermott

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The Home Book Club is back after a brief hiatus with Alice McDermott’s quiet and beautiful novel, Someone. Returning from  her own seven-year hiatus, McDermott tells the story of Marie, a girl growing up in Brooklyn to Irish parents, later a woman with a family of her own on Long Island, through the lens of the everyday. Beginning with the death of a young girl on Marie’s street, the novel softly begins the job of building a life. Marie experiences heartbreak, love and marriage, motherhood, and aging, of herself and her family. Without fanfare and including the mundane with the life-changing, Someone captures the reader from the very first sentence.

McDermott is no stranger to works fused with delicious description of the seemingly common. In an interview with PBS Newshour’s Jeffrey Brown, McDermott expressed the importance of language in her writing.

We are surrounded by story. Story is very accessible to us, more so than ever. But what I think literary fiction does is raise the level of the sentence to be as important as the story the sentence tells. The rhythm, the beauty, the music of it is as important as character or plot.

Featured in The New York Times Sunday Book ReviewSomeone is a treasure. A small and delicate treasure full of the exquisite, sometimes surprising, beauty and pain that makes up an ordinary life.

Discussion Questions for Someone:

– How does Marie’s internal observation differ from what she communicates to the world?

– What does the novel say about family and community?– What roles do Marie’s mother and father play in her life? How does their perspectives influence hers?

– Each passage seems to offer a different view of Marie: daughter in a power-struggle with her mother over baking bread, young woman at her first job, sister offering help to a hurting brother. What does that say about the experiences that we get in life?

McDermott’s other works include Charming BillyAfter ThisThat Night, and others. They have been awarded the National Book Award, finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, and have been featured in literary magazines and newspapers.

Watch the PBS Newshour interview here.

Gone Girl- Gillian Flynn

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Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl begins in the sleepy, somewhat run-down, town of North Carthage, Missouri. North Carthage is the kind of place that barely warrants its own place on the state map and most certainly doesn’t make an appearance on anything larger scale than that. Set against a backdrop of predictable failing businesses and dusty townsfolk, the drama soon becomes anything but mundane.

Nick and Amy appear to be your typical mid-West couple. He, a small town boy returning from the big city. She, his perfectionist wife intent on making a home in this town after her glamorous upbringing in the city. But read past the first paragraph and you’ll soon see that neither is the poster child for their own archetype.

It begins when Amy disappears and Nick, the last one to see her and, unfortunately for him, the one without an alibi, becomes the prime suspect. He soon faces his friends, family, and the ever-present media with a closet full of skeletons. Amy’s account, left in a diary, show us her growing unhappiness and fear in the days leading up to her disappearance. But she is not without skeletons of her own.

Gillian Flynn guides the reader through the despicable choices of a selfish husband, the vengeful plot of a scorned wife, and the twisted misery of a failed marriage. Gone Girl lives up to its suspenseful title and thriller reputation. Find a discussion guide at www.gillian-flynn.com.