By Norman Rush
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400077137, 256pp.)
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
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**A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK**
In a sophisticated romp through the tribulations and joys of marriage and friendship, a group of college friends reunites two decades after graduation.
After the sudden death of Douglas, once the ringleader of a clique of self-styled wits, his four best friends are summoned to his Catskills estate to mourn his passing. Responding to a mysterious sense of emergency in the call, Ned flies in from San Francisco with his wife Nina in furious pursuit; they’re at a critical point in their attempts to conceive and she won’t let a funeral get in the way. It is Nina who gives us a pointed, irreverent commentary as the men reconvene, while Ned tries to understand what it was that made this clutch of souls his friends to begin with—before time, sex, work, and the brutal quirks of history reshaped them. Filled with unexpected, funny, telling aperçus, Norman Rush’s Subtle Bodies is also a deeply moving exploration of the meanings of life.
Norman Rush is the author of three previous works of fiction: Whites, a collection of stories, and two novels, Mating and Mortals. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Best American Short Stories. Mating was the recipient of the National Book Award. Rush and his wife live in Rockland County, New York.
In his third, much anticipated novel, Subtle Bodies, Rush takes the reader inside the most intimate parts of friendship. The author says his goal for this book, which took him nearly a decade to finish, was to produce his first concentrated piece of writing. More at NPR.org
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“Rush is the best kind of comic novelist.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A portrait of that notoriously elusive thing, a genuinely happy couple. . . . The book glows with their intimate joy: their private jokes, their sexual teasing, their deep loyalty.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Rush’s characters want to fall in love, to laugh and enjoy themselves. Their quirks, opinions, compulsions . . . keep us engrossed—along with the clarity and precision of Rush’s sentences, the freshness of his observations.” —Francine Prose, The New York Review of Books
“Fans of Rush’s previous opuses will recognize the witty wordplay and intense, erotic eloquence. . . . But even the uninitiated will appreciate the brilliance of Rush’s clear and comedic characterization that causes this meditation on death and masculinity to crackle with energy and mirth.” —Interview Magazine
“Playfully erotic, hopelessly addictive.” —Vogue
“A funny, deeply satisfying look at friendships—why we make them, why we keep them, and how they change us over time.” —Booklist
“Rush’s protagonists tend to speak to each other . . . with formidable intelligence and eloquence, but it’s their linguistic inventiveness that is key to Rush’s remarkably convincing portrayals of enduring romantic love.”—New Yorker.com
“Rarely does one get from a male novelist a female character as lovingly—but unsentimentally—portrayed as Nina. . . . Subtle Bodies is black humor with a female face.” —The Daily Beast
“To a straight woman, the phenomenon of inter-male friendship possesses a certain anthropological interest. . . . So imagine this reader’s delight upon hearing that it’s this very mystery into which Norman Rush delves in Subtle Bodies, and that—hosanna, as one of his characters puts it—he’s given us a female perspective, too.” —The Los Angeles Review of Books
“Rush attends so closely to his characters—their thoughts, words, beliefs, relationships—and landscapes—physical, social, political—that he brings them utterly alive, with often-exhilarating aptitude and insight.” —The Boston Globe
“Rush may be America’s last living maximalist author. In two bulky, Africa-set novels, Mating and Mortals, he astutely explored themes of courtship, outsiderdom and herd mentality. . . . At barely half the length, his Subtle Bodies isn’t a slighter work. But compressed as it is, Rush’s storytelling feels more allegorical, its humor more pointed.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Rush’s defining gift might be his incredible awareness—about politics, about human nature, about the world—which he bestows upon his characters. . . . It makes the reader’s lens of the world a little clearer, a little sharper. If you’ve never read Rush. . . . Subtle Bodies is a more than fine place to begin.” —The Oregonian
“Full of the kinds of perception that skew the world around you and force you to see it differently.” —Baltimore Sun
“The book’s appeal lies in its complex characters, its slow-burn tension and its keen observations.” —Richmond Post-Dispatch
“This book abounds in wit, particularly in its exploration of Ned and Nina’s marriage. . . . His skill at revealing our interior lives is undiminished [and] his concerns with our carnal and intellectual lives remain pleasurably, provocatively intact." —Kirkus, Starred review
“The verbal play and digressions one might expect from Rush, author of the major works Mating and Mortals, but briefer and more accessible. Readers will be immediately drawn into the acutely rendered world swirling around Ned and Nina.” —Library Journal
“Timely. . . . Beautifully rendered. Just the kind of novel dedicated novel readers are always searching for.” —Hudson Valley News