Wednesday, April 09, 2008

How Did I Miss This??!!

Ever since I read Siri Hustvedt's novel, What I Loved, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2005, I've been completely in love with her work. After I closed What I Loved, I took it upon myself to backtrack through the majority of her works, including 2003's The Blindfold, and one of her essay collections, A Plea for Eros. I have yet to read The Enchantment of Lily Dahl and a couple of other essay collections, one of which is about painting (right up my alley).
I mentioned A Plea for Eros to Terri, of Reading, Writing and Retirement in response to her post about essays for The Sunday Salon, and in turn she mentioned a new novel of Hustvedt's that she is intrigued by.

New novel? What new novel?!

THIS NEW NOVEL! The Sorrows of an American was released on April 1st, and I had NO IDEA. I'm so disappointed. It's very likely that I'll be stripped of my "Siri Hustvedt, NUMBER ONE FAN!" decoder ring. I think I hear the fan police now.

In the spirit of not wasting any more time, I promptly went over to Powell's and ordered the novel this morning. In HARDCOVER, which I never do. NEVER EVER. That's just how excited I am to get my grubby little paws on some new Hustvedt. And all the caps--further evidence of my near otherworldly excitement.

Want to hear more? Here's a blurb from Publisher's Weekly:

"In her fourth novel (following the acclaimed What I Loved), Hustvedt continues, with grace and aplomb, her exploration of family connectedness, loss, grief and art. Narrator and New York psychoanalyst Erik Davidsen returns to his Minnesota hometown to sort through his recently deceased father Lars's papers. Erik's writer sister, Inga, soon discovers a letter from someone named Lisa that hints at a death that their father was involved in. Over the course of the book, the siblings track down people who might be able to provide information on the letter writer's identity. The two also contend with other looming ghosts. Erik immerses himself in the text of his father's diary as he develops an infatuation with Miranda, a Jamaican artist who lives downstairs with her daughter. Meanwhile, Inga, herself recently widowed, is reeling from potentially damaging secrets being revealed about the personal life of her dead husband, a well-known novelist and screenplay writer. Hustvedt gives great breaths of authenticity to Erik's counseling practice, life in Minnesota and Miranda's Jamaican heritage, and the anticlimax she creates is calming and justified; there's a terrific real-world twist revealed in the acknowledgments."

What I've adored about Hustvedt's work as a whole is her keen ability to

1) create tangible atmosphere charged with emotion whether it be grief, discomfort, anxiety, etc. etc.
2) incorporate complicated discussions of art, folklore, and psychology into works that can please a general audience
3) tell a damn good story

I have yet to be disappointed, and I feel sure (hope) that I love this novel as much as I've loved her other books. Now I'm crossing my fingers that it arrives at my door veryyyy quickly.


  1. I've looked at Hustvedt's work on the shelves but never picked anything up. I hereby promise to put this right as soon as possible. This sounds fascinating.

  2. Oh, Ann, I think you would LOVE HER! Give What I Loved a try first. It's my favorite. ;)

  3. Well pin a Brownie point on me! Now I'm so excited that there's a new author (to me) with a bunch of books to read. Don't you just love exchanging book info? And you bought it from Powell's, which is literally right down the street from me.

  4. This does sound good! I am not familiar with the author at all, but if you speak so highly of her work, I should probably give her a try.

  5. I know!!!! I hadn't realised she had a new book out either!! As soon as I read the comment on your blog yesterday I immediately went to look it up. I don't do hardbacks very often but I'm very tempted.

  6. Terri, yay for trading recs! Yay for new books and authors. And definitely YAY for Powells. I love ordering from their online store.

    Wendy, she's great. Really really atmospheric and smart and intense. I would start with What I Loved, or if you're in the mood for something quicker since she's a new-to-you author, try The Blindfold. It's more of a novella.

    Nat, it is hard to resist, eh?? I couldn't stand it!

  7. Heh heh, I knew I'd read about it somewhere! :)


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