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Off Keck Road


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'Mona Simpson is a wonderful writer, very spare and economical but with extraordinary emotional power. Off Keck Road is her best book yet - lucid and beautiful' Kate Atkinson 'Mona Simpson is a wonderful writer, very spare and economical but with extraordinary emotional power. Off Keck Road is her best book yet - lucid and beautiful' Kate Atkinson

About the Author

Mona Simpson is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, a Guggenheim grant and the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. She is the author of the acclaimed novels The Lost Father, A Regular Guy and Off Keck Road. She lives in Santa Monica, California with her husband and their two children.


This quiet novel from Simpson (Anywhere but Here), who never throws words and emotions around needlessly, follows the life of an ordinary woman from her teenaged years. Bea is in college when we first meet her, pulling up to new friend June's house "off Keck Road" in a sprightly little Wisconsin town in 1956. From there, we move back and forth in time, watching as Bea negotiates adolescence with the help of a class-conscious, fussy, slightly censorious mother who's only too pleased that her daughter is not the belle of the ball, through jobs, a quavering friendship with June, determined resistance to passes from a married man, and on to near retirement, still unmarried and an accomplished businesswomanÄnot what you would expect of the restless college student in the red Oldsmobile Holiday. Nothing momentous happens here, but events crowd through Bea's life, drawing in other townsfolk, and the whole story is beautifully rendered. Too low-key for some, but many readers will find this a joy. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/00.]ÄBarbara Hoffert, "Library Journal" Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Simpson (Anywhere But Here) casts her net lightly over the reader in her fourth, uncharacteristically slim work of fiction, a novella, attempting to engage with a quiet plot about emotionally passive protagonists and the risk of staying disconnected. The narrative follows the lives of three women from 1956 to the present in Green Bay, Wis. Bea Maxwell, a practical, efficient woman, seems to have inherited the steadfast, can-do traits of earlier Midwestern heroines found in the landscapes of Willa Cather. The quintessential overachiever in high school, Bea is equally successful during a brief stint working for an advertising agency in Chicago. In terms of love or any risky emotional connection, however, Bea is somehow missing the boat, apparently by choice. She easily gives up her job and returns to Green Bay when her mother contracts rheumatoid arthritis. Once home, she is drawn to June Umberhum, a college friend who grew up off Keck Road. June has returned from an early marriage and is raising a daughter. Always a bit of a town rebel, June puts forth an effort to taste life, while Bea's desires remain submerged. Also telescoped into the neighborhood scene is Shelley, a Keck Road girl who contracted a mild case of polio as a child. The connections between these three women are gentle and unforced. They pass through the years in the eddies of their own interiors as their community expands around them, but the narrative hovers more than it grips. Simpson's signature fine writing renders subtle quirks of character gently and realistically, and she again finds fresh ways of capturing the familiar. Readers who enjoy the "day-in-the-average-life" tales of Anne Tyler will find a similar tone here. The appeal of Simpson's previous books should elicit a good initial response to this one, and her somewhat subdued plot structure may attract readers eager for reflective fiction. 40,000 first printing. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

'A delicate, flavourful novel, all the better for Simpson's expertly light touch' Guardian * Guardian *
'Elegant and perceptive... beautifully nuanced' * Sunday Telegraph *
'Straight from the heart' * Mirror *
'A splendid novella' Time Out'A vivid and mesmerizing story' * Family Circle *

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