A Seahorse Year
By Stacey D'Erasmo
Houghton Mifflin, Hardcover, 9780618439232, 360pp.
Publication Date: July 2004
List Price: $24.00*
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Stacey D'Erasmo's new novel, following the highly acclaimed Tea, is a powerful and beautiful book about a pivotal year in the life of a quintessentially modern family. In contemporary San Francisco, an extended family is transformed by the emerging breakdown of a troubled adolescent boy. The lives of those who love Christopher -- his mother, Nan; her lover, Marina; his gay father, Hal; and Christopher's loyal girlfriend, Tamara -- are pushed to the edge by something new in him that mystifies them all. When he runs away, far into the woods of nothern California, their assumptions about themselves and one another are sorely tested. They might not, they discover, be quite so modern as they once thought. Even the dried seahorses on Marina's windowpane rattle unnervingly as if to announce a time like no other.
In precise, lyrical language, A Seahorse Year explores love at the limits of bearability. It is wise about the things we do out of love that often have both redemptive and disastrous consequences. Difficult questions that have all the tough complexity of real life are asked; devastating truths are revealed in the answers.
Michael Cunningham described Tea as "pure and profound, a ravishing book." A Seahorse Year is an even richer, more luminous achievement.
"Beautifully plotted, cunningly structured, and richly textured, this gorgeous novel offers rare pleasures of both character and language." --Andrea Barrett
Her prose pulses with just how it feels to live now; she has an astonishing feel for the texture of contemporary life. . .superb." --Mark Doty
"D'Erasmo's quiet, penetrating second novel. . .follows a San Francisco family coping with a. . .son's mental illness. . .with beauty and insight." Publishers Weekly
"Abundantly clear throughout is D'Erasmo's talent and intelligence. A Seahorse Year succeeds in being both deeply satisfying and quietly subversive." --Margot Livesey The New York Times Book Review
"Fluent in the subtlest of psychological states and gloriously visual in her resonant descriptions." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"A quietly effective novel about family strife.This book demands commitment and ends up compelling commitment because of Stacey D'Erasmo's intense insights into her characters and their deep affection for each other and for life." --Alan Cheuse, National Public Radio
"[D'Erasmo] writes with a graceful, sometimes devastating directness, in clear, crisp phrases lined with subtle lyricism." --Karen Campbell Boston Globe
"Each character, and each voice, seems perfectly necessary. [D'Erasmo] makes you feel that this is the most economic way to tell this sad, gorgeous story." --Claire Dederer Newsday
"...psychologically complex and lyrical..." --Irina Reyn The San Francisco Chronicle
"Alternating perspectives and controlled, nuanced writing bring depth and compassion to each character . . . D'Erasmo [is] an author to watch." Library Journal
"You could read Stacey D’Erasmo for the subtlety of her insights or the beauty of her language or for her tumbling, shifting arrangements of plot and characters.Or you could just open A Seahorse Year and be mesmerized." --Regina Marler The Advocate
"Unflinching prose that’s both descriptive and soulful." --Beth Greenfield TimeOut New York
"A Seahorse Year is a stunning achievement." --Suzan Sherman
"D'Erasmo deftly filters this increasingly suspenseful story. . .offering an unflinching view into the. . .lives of this unconventional clan." --Jenny Feldman Elle
"After turning a page or two of A Seahorse Year, you’ll know you’re into something special." --Kevin Allison Out Magazine