Bazaar Lanoye

Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars.

21,50 incl.btw

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Auteur: Joyce Carol Oates Categorieën: , ,


“Whitey” McClaren is the well-liked former mayor of a modest city in upstate New York, but his local standing counts for nothing when, spotting two cops viscously assaulting a “dark-skinned young man” on the hard shoulder, he pulls over to intervene. The 67-year-old good samaritan saves a life but is kicked to the ground and Tasered at close range, suffering a stroke.

Without its “linchpin”, the McClaren family soon careens out of control. For Jessalyn, his adored wife of nearly 40 years, Whitey’s loss signals the end of her life. Except that she’s somehow still living. After she adopts a burly, squint-eyed feral tomcat and takes up with a moustachioed Puerto Rican artist, her five grown kids plot an intervention.

Worrying about Jessalyn takes their minds off their own problems only temporarily, for as Sophia, the youngest daughter, confides: “If my mother changes into another person, the rest of us won’t know who we are.” As a scientist, Sophia uses her steady hand to kill scores of lab animals, turning them into data – a job she’s suddenly questioning.

The two eldest children, Whitey’s once-handsome heir, Thom, and former prom queen Beverly, are trapped in stale marriages. Self-medicating with booze and letting off steam with violence both verbal and physical, they veer close to caricature, and middle child Lorene – a misanthropic high-school principal – is equally hard to warm to.

It’s youngest son Virgil who is the most complex McClaren. An artsy hobo, he is without vanity “as an infant is without vanity, enthralled by its own mere being”. Virgil brings out a steely sharpness in Oates’s prose, whether she’s describing his attire (“both dramatic and silly, like a costume”) or his phobias (“elevator claustrophobia is just family life, condensed”). In a weirdly prescient twist, he will become haunted by a missed opportunity to use hand sanitiser.” – The Guardian

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