Reviews don’t get much farther flung than New Zealand.
I seemed to have been lately reading novels with quirky introverted characters; The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Last Voyage of Mrs Henry Parker to name just two. They are the sort of stories to be read at leisure. So what better time, in the midst of the 2020 Covid 19 Lockdown, to read something in a similar vein.
Henry Maxwell is a retired gentleman once a soldier and an engineer, always a husband, father and grandfather. The year is 1998 and we share this with Henry in his 75th year. As each chapter captures a moment in the year, we experience the smaller details of Henry’s life.
These everyday minutiae are poignantly shared; from the humour of trying to stop Rufus the dog from killing patches of grass with his peeing, to the joy of receiving a perfect Father’s Day present from his children.
Eckerd College’s Writers in Paradise presents a series of readings by conference faculty and guests. All readings are followed by book signings, with books available for sale. Readings are free and open to the public; they take place in Miller Auditorium on the Eckerd College campus, 4200 54th Ave. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 386-2264. writersinparadise.com.
- 8 p.m. Saturday: Keynote speaker Dani Shapiro (Inheritance), Q&A with Les Standiford
- 7 p.m. Sunday: Ann Hood (Kitchen Yarns) and Sterling Watson (The Committee)
- 7 p.m. Monday: Ashley M. Jones (dark//thing), Michael Koryta (If She Wakes) and Stewart O’Nan (Henry, Himself)
- 7 p.m. Tuesday: Andre Dubus III (Gone So Long) and Stephanie Elizondo Griest (All the Agents and Saints: Dispatches from the U.S. Borderlands)
The rest of the European tour:
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From Boston University’s alumni magazine:
When author Stewart O’Nan introduced readers to his fictional Maxwell clan in 2002’s Wish You Were Here, the family patriarch, Henry Maxwell, had recently died. In that novel and again in 2011’s Emily, Alone, readers caught only glimpses of Henry in the memories of his surviving family members. In O’Nan’s new novel, Henry, Himself (Viking, 2019), Henry finally gets his due.
“The book is about revealing who he actually is,” says O’Nan (ENG’83). “Not what other people say he is, but the way he feels and thinks.”
O’Nan hadn’t expected to return to the Maxwells. The author of 18 novels, he has tackled vastly different subjects and settings in each of his books: fast food shift workers in Last Night at the Lobster and the last days of writer F. Scott Fitzgerald in West of Sunset. When he started Wish You Were Here, O’Nan says, he intended it to be about Henry’s recently widowed wife, Emily. But he found the other characters—Henry’s sister, Arlene, his children, Kenny and Margaret, and his grandchildren—vying for his attention. Nine years later, in Emily, Alone, he chronicled Emily’s life as a widow. But there was something about Henry that kept nagging at him. He decided it was time to go back and see what he could discover about him.