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After the Parade

A Novel

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.

Description

The debut novel from award-winning author Lori Ostlund—“smart, resonant, and imbued with beauty” (Publishers Weekly) that “provides considerable pleasure and emotional power” (The New York Times Book Review)—about a man who leaves his longtime partner in New Mexico for a tragicomic road trip deep into the mysteries of his own Midwestern childhood.

Sensitive, bighearted, and achingly self-conscious, forty-year-old Aaron Englund long ago escaped the confinements of his Midwestern hometown, but he still feels like an outcast. After twenty years under the Pygmalion-like care of his older partner, Walter, Aaron at last decides it is time to take control of his own fate. But soon after establishing himself in San Francisco, Aaron sees that real freedom will not come until he has made peace with his memories of Mortonville, Minnesota: a cramped town whose four hundred souls form a constellation of Aaron’s childhood heartbreaks and hopes.

After Aaron’s father died in the town parade, it was the larger-than life misfits of his childhood who helped Aaron find his place in a world hostile to difference. But Aaron’s sense of rejection runs deep: when Aaron was seventeen, Dolores—his loving yet selfish and enigmatic mother—vanished one night. And when, all these years later, a new friend in San Francisco offers Aaron a way to locate his mother, his past and present collide, forcing Aaron to rethink his place in the world.

“Touching and often hilarious…Ostlund writes with acuity and refreshing honesty about the messy complexity of being a social animal in today’s world…” (Booklist, starred review). “Everything here aches, from the lucid prose to the sensitively treated characters to their beautiful and heartbreaking stories…An example of realism in its most potent iteration: not a nearly arranged plot orchestrated by an authorial god but an authentic, empathetic representation of life as it truly is” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). After the Parade is a glorious anthem for the outsider.

From Publishers Weekly

Jul 06, 2015 – Written over the course of 15 years, Ostlund's debut novel (after the Flannery O'Connor Award winning collection The Bigness of the World) follows a broken and empty man who embarks on a six-month journey to make sense of his past, in hopes of comfortably inhabiting his present. After 20 years cradled in the care of the older, stifling Walter, 40-year-old Aaron strikes out from the Midwest for better horizons in San Francisco. Yet when he settles into his new routine teaching ESL to a ragtag group of foreigners and living in a studio apartment inside a garage owned by a perpetually squabbling couple he finds it's as unfulfilling as the one he left behind in New Mexico. On a sentence-by-sentence level, Ostlund's prose is unmatched smart, resonant, and imbued with beauty. But the book's structure doesn't always support the weight of two dueling stories competing for the reader's attention Aaron's growing pains during his first few months in San Francisco and, via prolonged flashbacks, his difficult childhood in smalltown Minnesota after the accidental death of his father in a parade and the slow deterioration and eventual disappearance of his mother. Still, explorations of each character's grief and regret, calcified resentment, and gnawing loneliness are vividly rendered.

Customer Reviews

The pieces never come together

The author is well known for her short stories, the themes of which are repeated in her debut novel.
Unfortunately the novel reads like a series of short stories as the pieces never unify the narrative.
Told between present day and flashbacks, the novel presents characterizations that elicit no emotional response from the reader. I had no empathy for any of the characters and therefore didn't care about them or their stories.
The author lacks subtlety, this is most evident in her decision to include reference to Diane Arbus (we get it Lori, outsiders) to draw your attention to the fringe characters that populate the story.
Finally, the entire novel is a clear feminine perspective. That wouldn't be an issue if the main character wasn't a gay man, but the result is a caricature of a gay man rather than a portrait.

After the Parade
View in iTunes
  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Literary
  • Published: Sep 22, 2015
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Seller: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 352 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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