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A successful Iowa farmer decides to divide his farm between his three daughters. When the youngest objects, she is cut out of his will. This sets off a chain of events that brings dark truths to light and explodes long-suppressed emotions. An ambitious reimagining of Shakespeare’s King Lear cast upon a typical American community in the late twentieth century, A Thousand Acres takes on themes of truth, justice, love, and pride, and reveals the beautiful yet treacherous topography of humanity.
From Jane Smiley, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Thousand Acres: a pair of novellas chronicling difficult choices that reshape the dynamics of two very different families.
In Ordinary Love, Smiley focuses on a woman’s infidelity and the lasting, indelible effects it leaves on her children long after her departure. Good Will describes a father who realizes how his son has been affected by his decision to lead a counterculture life and move his family to a farm. As both stories unfold, Smiley gracefully raises the questions that confront all families with the characteristic style and insight that has marked all of her work.
Spanning two years on the circuit, from Kentucky and California to New York and Paris, Horse Heaven puts us among trainers and track brats, horse-obsessed girls, nervy jockeys, billionaire owners and restless wives. Here is the trainer of dazzling integrity and his opposite: a wicked prince of the tract, headed for still another swindle; here are the gamblers and hangers-on. And in an amazing feat of imagination, here are the magnificent Thoroughbreds themselves, from the filly orphaned at birth to the brown horse who always wins by a nose, a lovable “claimer” who passes from owner to owner on a heartwrenching journey down from the winner’s circle.
All the constant excitement of racing courses through a novel that opens up a fascinating world even as it moves us with its exploration of wanting, loving, and striving; of our mysterious bond with animals; and, above all, of our profound desire to connect—emotionally, sexually, spiritually—with each other.
Nestled in the heart of the Midwest, amid cow pastures and waving fields of grain, lies Moo University, a distinguished institution devoted to the art and science of agriculture. Here, among an atmosphere rife with devious plots, mischievous intrigue, lusty liaisons, and academic one-upmanship, Chairman X of the Horticulture Department harbors a secret fantasy to kill the dean; Mrs. Walker, the provost’s right hand and campus information queen, knows where all the bodies are buried; Timothy Nonahan, associate professor of English, advocates eavesdropping for his creative writing assignments; and Bob Carlson, a sophomore, feeds and maintains his only friend: a hog named Earl Butz. In this wonderfully written and masterfully plotted novel, Jane Smiley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres, offers us a wickedly funny comedy that is also a darkly poignant slice of life.
The luminous novella and stories in The Age of Grief explore the vicissitudes of love, friendship, and marriage with all the compassion and insight that have come to be expected from Jane Smiley, the Pulitzer Prize—winning author of A Thousand Acres.
In “The Pleasure of Her Company,” a lonely, single woman befriends the married couple next door, hoping to learn the secret of their happiness. In “Long Distance,” a man finds himself relieved of the obligation to continue an affair that is no longer compelling to him, only to be waylaid by the guilt he feels at his easy escape. And in the incandescently wise and moving title novella, a dentist, aware that his wife has fallen in love with someone else, must comfort her when she is spurned, while maintaining the secret of his own complicated sorrow.
Beautifully written, with a wry intelligence and a lively comic touch, The Age of Grief captures moments of great intimacy with grace, clarity, and indelible emotional power.