Laura Kasischke's first novel, SUSPICIOUS RIVER, was hailed as "extremely powerful" (The Los Angeles Times) and "amazing...beautifully written" (The Boston Globe). Now Kasischke follows up her auspicious debut with mesmerizing story of youthful passion and loss of innocence.
When Katrina Connors' mother walks out on her family, Kat is surprised but not shocked; the whole year she has been "becoming sixteen" - falling in love with the boy next door, shedding her babyfat, discovering sex - her mother has been slowly withdrawing. As Kat and her impassive father pick up the pieces of their daily lives, she finds herself curiously unaffected by her mother's absence. But in dreams that become too real to ignore, she's haunted by her mother's cries for help. Finally, she must act on her instinct that something violent and evil has occurred - a realization that brings Kat to a chilling discovery.
Like SUSPICIOUS RIVER, which The New Yorker described as "by turns terrifying and ravishingly lyrical," WHITE BIRD BLIZZARD evokes works of Kathryn Harrison and Joyce Carol Oates - and confirms Kasischke's arrival as a major literary talent.
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Laura Kasischke teaches creative writing in Ann Arbor, Michigan.From Kirkus Reviews:
Poet Kasischkes second novel (after Suspicious River, 1996) is a mix of the fine and the irritating that glides slowly downward to an airy nothing. Life in suburban Garden Heights, Ohio, becomes at once more exciting and more miserable for teenaged Katrina Connors when she falls in love with classmate and next-door neighbor Phil: the new-found sex is wonderful, but Katrinas already exceeding-strange mother gets suddenly all the more antagonistic, cruel, and unpredictableand then disappears entirely, never to be heard from again except for one phone call (or so Kat believes) declaring shell never come home again. Good riddance, many a reader will say, to this woman who through boredom, sexual unhappiness, ingrained habit, pure spite, and unmitigated meanness routinely derided her admittedly dull-witted husband (a school administrator named Brock) and did no better by her daughter, choosing her name because She wanted a cat, overfondling her in childhood, then manically humiliating her in teenhood when Phil comes on the scene. Nevertheless, Moms disappearance triggers a sense of enormous emptiness in Kat (there are no adjectives for this lightness I feel, this whiteness) that gets labeled anxiety disorder, parallels suburban Ohios emptiness itself, and takes her to a psychoanalyst, wherewell, where the books trouble begins, seeming uncertain where to go next. A year will pass, two, then three; Kat starts college; Phil and Kat break up; we meet eccentric grandmothers, Phils mother (shes blind), Kats girlfriends (they smoke, drink, and gossip in the basement), the Detective Scieziesciez (its pronounced shh-shh-shh), whom Kat seduces (hes more manly than Dad), beginning a long affair; and then, and then . . . . Then all will end surprisingly indeed, with Mom, as it happens, never having left home at all, but just, wellchilling out. Ambitious writing in equal parts elegant and excessive, with a psychology that spins out of control and goes poof. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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