Saul and Patsy
By Charles Baxter
(Vintage Contemporaries, Paperback, 9780375709166, 317pp.)
Publication Date: April 12, 2005
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Five Oaks, Michigan is not exactly where Saul and Patsy meant to end up. Both from the East Coast, they met in college, fell in love, and settled down to married life in the Midwest. Saul is Jewish and a compulsively inventive worrier; Patsy is gentile and cheerfully pragmatic. On Saul’s initiative (and to his continual dismay) they have moved to this small town–a place so devoid of irony as to be virtually “a museum of earlier American feelings”–where he has taken a job teaching high school.
Soon this brainy and guiltily happy couple will find children have become a part of their lives, first their own baby daughter and then an unloved, unlovable boy named Gordy Himmelman. It is Gordy who will throw Saul and Patsy’s lives into disarray with an inscrutable act of violence. As timely as a news flash yet informed by an immemorial understanding of human character, Saul and Patsy is a genuine miracle.
It might be the Heartland of America, but writers from the middle of the country are often overlooked. An Iowa resident herself, author Jennifer Wilson recommends the best books from that cold, comforting place known as the Midwest. More at NPR.org
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