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Susan Minot was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and grew up in Manchester-by-the-Sea. She studied writing and painting at Brown University and received an MFA in writing from Columbia University. After publishing short stories in Grand Street and The New Yorker she was offered a contract for a novel by the legendary publisher Seymour Lawrence, who was to publish her next three books. His initial support for "a work of fiction" became Monkeys, nine stories which together make up a novel about the Vincent family, a New England family of seven children with a Catholic mother and Brahmin-background father. The stories cover twelve years in the life of the children, their mother's "monkeys," during which a tragic accident alters their lives. It was published in a dozen countries and won the Prix Femina Etranger in France in 1987. The novel was followed by Lust & Other Stories, a collection about wayward artists and journalists living in New York City, particularly about the relations between men and women in their twenties and thirties having difficulty coming together and difficulty breaking apart. Her third book, Folly, set in the twenties and thirties in Boston, is a novel about a woman from a stifling Brahmin background whose choice of a husband is the determining factor in her life, and about the two different men she falls in love with. The challenge Minot set for herself was to write about a place and society which had always disturbed her and to try to imagine how a woman who was not an idiot could stay in that world. In 1994 she was contacted by the director Bernardo Bertolucci with the idea of developing his idea for a screenplay about a young American girl visiting English expatriate artists living in Tuscany and having a "sentimental education." She had always been interested in cinema as a student and moviegoer. Stealing Beauty was a collaboration with the director. It was filmed in the summer of 1995, north of Siena, where she was given the opportunity to continue polishing and learning on the set. Evening is the story of a woman on her deathbed who amidst the delirium and images of her past full life relives a love affair she had forty years earlier, when at twenty-five she attended the wedding of her best friend on an island in Maine. As her children wait and tend to her, she remembers minutely the details of those three days when she met a man, a time which emerges from marriages and divorces and children as being the high point of her life. Evening has been optioned by Kennedy/Marshall at Disney, with Minot currently working on the adaptation for the screen. Having spent too many years in one place, bent over paper writing, Minot, who has an apartment in New York City, finds herself traveling and away from home much of the time.
Lying in a morphine-induced reverie, Ann Grant recalls with remarkable clarity a weekend liaison 40 years ago. Now dying of cancer after a life filled with three husbands and five children, she contemplates her life. In this novel, Minot (Monkeys, LJ 4/15/86) captures the dreamy, in-and-out-of-consciousness state with a series of flashbacks that contrast the present Ann with herself at 25. Primarily a story about dying, Evening poses the elemental questions of love and lifes meaning. The authors writing is notable for its intensity and vividness, qualities enhanced by Kathryn Walkers skilled performance. Her deep, throaty voice brings a compelling immediacy to the characters, but this abridged version can be difficult to follow, largely because of the many abrupt shifts between past and present. The tape quality is excellent, but this work may be better suited to print than to audio.Nancy R. Ives, SUNY at Geneseo
A dying woman's abiding passion for a lover she met in her 20s propels this eloquent third novel by the gifted author of Monkeys and Folly. As 65-year-old cancer patient Ann Grant Lord drifts in and out of a morphine-induced haze, her recollections range back and forth between 1954 and 1994, mulling over the influences that have shaped her life. In particular, she clings to the memory of Harris Arden, the young doctor she met at the wedding of her best friend, Lila Wittenborn, and their brief affair, which he ended to marry another. Resigned to a life without bliss, Ann subsequently sang in cabarets and accumulated husbands, survived motherhood, widowhood and the death of her 12-year-old son but never knew another passion like the one she felt for Harris. With insight and sensitivity, Minot sketches the small daily travails of the deathbed vigils shared by Ann's friends and step-siblings and keeps tension high by skillfully foreshadowing (or back-shadowing) certain of the novel's largest, saddest events, all the while withholding longed-for particulars. The day after the wedding, we eventually learn, the Wittenborns suffered a crushing loss. The juxtaposition of Ann's heartbreak with the more universal tragedy that affected her friend's family accentuates the novel's achingly poignant climax. As the end nears, Ann's drug-induced hallucinations, memories and imagined conversations with Harris all merge into one roiling stream in which Minot's flair for dramatization comes to the fore, rendering her heroine's experience of love at first sight plausible and enviable. Minot has created in Ann a woman whose ardent past allows her to face death while savoring the exhilaration that marked her full and passionate life. Editor, Jordan Pavlin; agent, Georges Borchardt; Random House audio. (Oct.)
"Her best work yet, assured, supple, exhilarating in its nerve and cool momentum" --Joan Didion "A stunning novel...a powerful story that cuts back and forth in time to give us both the defining moment in a woman's life and an understanding of how that moment has reverberated through the remainder of her days...Her evocation of her heroine's passion for Harris Arden is so convincing, her depiction of the world she inhabits is so fiercely observed...The difference between [Monkeys and Evening] attests to Susan Minot's growing ambition and assurance as an artist" --Michiko Kakutani, New York Times "An absorbing drama...Minot writes with quiet perceptiveness and grace, pulling the reader into Ann's deathbed reverie" --Elle "A brilliant lyric performance" --John Casey "In spare and lovely language, Susan Minot has set forth a real life, in all its particularity and splendor and pain. This is the task of the novelist, and in Evening Minot has succeeded admirably" --Roxana Robinson, New York Times Book Review "It astounds in its craftsmanship and imprints itself indelibly on the heart...A haunting work of art that moves at the pace of a suspense thriller" --Sheila Bosworth, New Orleans Times-Picayune "Evening is a beautifully realized work...more mature and confident than anything she has written...An exquisite novel" --Gail Caldwell, Boston Globe "A wonderful, truthful, heartbreaking book. . .. Evening vindicates the wildest assertions any of us have made about Susan Minot's talent" --Tom McGuane "Evening is a supremely sensual, sensitive and dramatic novel...So rich in color and motion, music and atmosphere" --Donna Seaman, Booklist "I was swept up in it...It moved me and made me cry" --D. T. Max, New York Observer