Tag Archives: Ann Beattie

Reviewed: Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines A Life by Ann Beattie

Reviewed by Jen Vafidis

Mrs. Nixon

By Ann Beattie

Scribner, 304 p.

 

Ann Beattie’s latest novel Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines A Life is not a biography, despite the helpful chronology of Patricia Nixon’s life in the back of the book. It’s not a novel either. There’s no plot beyond what is proposed in the subtitle. And it’s not a memoir; Beattie’s one encounter with Mrs. Nixon is entirely fictional. So what can we look forward to in the latest Ann Beattie? I think I was hoping for well-observed and professionalized fan fiction about the wife of the GOP’s biggest pre-00s disgrace. But this is not that kind of book, at least not totally. Beattie also pontificates at length about fiction in short story analyses designed to parallel the art of constructing a political and personal image. It’s hard, in other words, to read Mrs. Nixon with expectations of any kind, and it’s a hard book to like if a look inside Ann Beattie’s mind is not the only thing you want from the premise. The subtitle gets it exactly right: this is a book about Ann Beattie, not Pat Nixon. The book is meaty enough to warrant discussion, albeit a frustrated one on my part. Moments of real humor and warmth exist, but they’re overshadowed by a Boomer-specific insularity, thrown into view by the obsession with the era and its political bogeymen, that threatens the professed goal of imagining another person’s life. The experiment from the outset seems doomed. Continue reading

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Afternoon Bites: Ann Patchett, Ann Beattie, Kevin Sampsell, and more

“I…have no interest in living in a city without a bookstore.” Ann Patchett has opened a Parnassus Books, a bookstore in Nashville. In related news: fuck yeah, Ann Patchett.

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Morning Bites: 2011 NBA champions, John Hodgman on OWS, Amis on DeLillo, Kurt Vile pics, and more

Jesmyn Ward, Nikky Finney, and Stephen Greenblatt became the only people that will be able to say that they won anything from the NBA in 2011.  The Washington Post has a nice Twitter timeline of the National Book Award happenings, and The New York Times has a rundown as well.

  • Pictures from a Kurt Vile and Widowspeak show.

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Morning Bites: Post-Ann Beattie, Taylor on Stephen King, Downton Disco, bad Life covers, and more

Now that Ann Beattie’s Mrs. Nixon is out, what First Lady deserves the fiction treatment next? 

  • Justin Taylor talking about Stephen King is one of those things you think would be cool if it happened.  Then one day it does, and you’re like, “Holy shit!  That was awesome!”  Such is the case with his piece at Tor.com.

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Indexing: Ann Beattie at the DMV, Ben Tarnoff, Frank Bill, Geoff Dyer, Orwell, and So Much More!

A roundup of things consumed by our editors. 

Jason Diamond

Ann Beattie’s Mrs. Nixon was my company when I waited in line at the DMV in Herald Square for two hours yesterday, trying to get my drivers license for the first time in New York.  Even though I’d had a DL in another state for ten years, since I didn’t renew, I’m a new driver in the eyes of Governor Cuomo.  That means I get to go through the entire process I went through when I was sixteen all over again.  Continue reading

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Indexing: Bookavore’s Recommendations, Dennis Cooper, Ann Beattie, Holocaust fiction, and more

Tobias Carroll
Earlier this week, I finished reading Irmgaud Keun’s After Midnight (at the recommendation of Bookavore).  What begins as a depiction of daily life in late-30s Germany from a narrator not particularly disposed towards fascism eventually (and subtly, and quietly) becomes something much more haunting, as the sublimated tendencies towards frustration and despair that have accumulated over the course of the book make themselves eminently tangible. Continue reading

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