That Old Cape Magic

By Richard Russo
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780375414961, 272pp.)

Publication Date: August 4, 2009

List Price: $25.95*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the August 2009 Indie Notables
“Jack Griffin doesn't have fond memories of his parents, two college professors who were too often careless of one another's feelings and dismissive of the world at large. Now a middle-age married man himself, Griffin wants to be anything but like them, yet now his own marriage is disintegrating. Russo's latest novel captures exactly the ways we fool ourselves and make fools of ourselves as we grope for truth, and it shows the grace truth can provide should we ever manage to recognize it.”
-- Betsy Burton, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT


Description

Following Bridge of Sighs—a national best seller hailed by The Boston Globe as “an astounding achievement” and “a masterpiece”—Richard Russo gives us the story of a marriage, and of all the other ties that bind, from parents and in-laws to children and the promises of youth.

Griffin has been tooling around for nearly a year with his father’s ashes in the trunk, but his mother is very much alive and not shy about calling on his cell phone. She does so as he drives down to Cape Cod, where he and his wife, Joy, will celebrate the marriage of their daughter Laura’s best friend. For Griffin this is akin to driving into the past, since he took his childhood summer vacations here, his parents’ respite from the hated Midwest. And the Cape is where he and Joy honeymooned, in the course of which they drafted the Great Truro Accord, a plan for their lives together that’s now thirty years old and has largely come true. He’d left screenwriting and Los Angeles behind for the sort of New England college his snobby academic parents had always aspired to in vain; they’d moved into an old house full of character; and they’d started a family. Check, check and check.

But be careful what you pray for, especially if you manage to achieve it. By the end of this perfectly lovely weekend, the past has so thoroughly swamped the present that the future suddenly hangs in the balance. And when, a year later, a far more important wedding takes place, their beloved Laura’s, on the coast of Maine, Griffin’s chauffeuring two urns of ashes as he contends once more with Joy and her large, unruly family, and both he and she have brought dates along. How in the world could this have happened?

That Old Cape Magic is a novel of deep introspection and every family feeling imaginable, with a middle-aged man confronting his parents and their failed marriage, his own troubled one, his daughter’s new life and, finally, what it was he thought he wanted and what in fact he has. The storytelling is flawless throughout, moments of great comedy and even hilarity alternating with others of rueful understanding and heart-stopping sadness, and its ending is at once surprising, uplifting and unlike anything this Pulitzer Prize winner has ever written.




About the Author

Richard Russo lives with his wife in Camden, Maine, and in Boston. In 2002 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Empire Falls.




NPR
Tuesday, Aug 18, 2009

Richard Russo turns a satiric eye toward matrimony and middle age in his new novel, That Old Cape Magic. Book critic Maureen Corrigan calls the book a "glistening ... chambered nautilus of a novel." More at NPR.org

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NPR
Tuesday, Aug 4, 2009

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo sifts through failed marriages, memory and the bonds between parents and children in his latest novel. More at NPR.org

NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.




Reviews from AltWeeklies.com
From The Portland Mercury, Portland, Oregon

Cape Magic lacks the expansive, roomy quality of Russo's best work, but his trademark warmth makes it a worthwhile read all the same -- after all, it's only 261 pages.

From New Haven Advocate, New Haven, Connecticut

Despite its flaws, That Old Cape Magic succeeds as a funny, forgiving profile of a man crawling his way towards self-knowledge just in time to make things right.

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