Peter and Rebecca Harris: mid-forties denizens of Manhattan's SoHo, nearing the apogee of committed careers in the arts—he a dealer, she an editor. With a spacious loft, a college-age daughter in Boston, and lively friends, they are admirable, enviable contemporary urbanites with every reason, it seems, to be happy. Then Rebecca's much younger look-alike brother, Ethan (known in the family as Mizzy, "the mistake"), shows up for a visit. A beautiful, beguiling twenty-three-year-old with a history of drug problems, Mizzy is wayward, at loose ends, looking for direction. And in his presence, Peter finds himself questioning his artists, their work, his career—the entire world he has so carefully constructed.
Like his legendary, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Hours, Michael Cunningham's masterly new novel is a heartbreaking look at the way we live now. Full of shocks and aftershocks, it makes us think and feel deeply about the uses and meaning of beauty and the place of love in our lives.
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"Peter Harris, a second-tier art dealer in Manhattan, has worries, especially about the upcoming visit of his much younger, very beautiful, drug-addicted brother-in-law, Mizzy. Already caught between artist and buyer, between wife and daughter, between youth and middle age, Peter is further conflicted by the presence of Mizzy, who opens the doors of possibility. Peter now thinks about escaping limbo. What is signaled in print through the use of design elements, narrator Hugh Dancy does through his voice: A change in inflection, a slight questioning, a hesitation, or an increase in speed alerts the listener to a switch from stream of consciousness to public dialogue, from narrative description to personal conversation. Dancy's reading brings authenticity to Peter's emotional journey, saving it from self-indulgence. C.B.L. (c) AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine"
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