Picturing Will, the widely acclaimed new novel by Ann Beattie, unravels the complexities of a postmodern family. There's Will, a curious five-year-old who listens to the heartbeat of a plant through his toy stethoscope; Jody, his mother, a photographer poised on the threshold of celebrity; Mel, Jody's perfect -- perhaps too perfect -- lover; and Wayne, the rather who left Will without warning and now sees his infrequent visits as a crimp in his bedhopping. Beattie shows us how these lives intersect, attract, and repel one another with dazzling shifts and moments of heartbreaking directness.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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Beattie here aims to flesh out her characteristically bone-thin writing, but the skeleton still shows through. Aspiring photographer Jody, abandoned by husband Wayne--now on his third wife--is deeply devoted to her young son Will but hesitant to commit to lover Mel. Still, she visits Mel in faraway New York City, where Mel's friend, gallery owner Haverford (whose name she can recall only as Haveabud), takes a shine to her work--or to her. When Mel takes Will to visit his father in Florida, Haveabud goes along for the ride, bringing Spencer, a former protege's son with whom he engages in sexual acts shockingly direct in their description. Meanwhile, Wayne demonstrates his continued instability by cheating flagrantly on his new wife, Corky. As the story moves from life to life, we see the characters more fully, as in multiple exposures; but this approach does not so much enrich our understanding as distance us from the characters. A pity; there are some insightful comments here, and some sharp, bright writing. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/89.
- Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Beattie's ( Love Always ) first novel in five years is an understated meditation on psychic survival in the 1980s. Jody is a wedding photographer in Virginia, a struggling artist and a single mother with a bright 5-year-old son, Will. Jody's boyfriend Mel wants her to marry him and move to New York City, where he works in an art gallery. As the flat, pared-down narrative prismatically shifts between characters' viewpoints, we see Will molded by traumatic or random events: his philandering, remarried father, a Florida handyman, is taken away in a drug bust; and Haveabud, his mom's effete, bisexual, art-world mentor, fondles stepson Spencer, who then involves Will in bizarre games. An italicized lyric monologue threading through the novel underscores the tribulations of parenting. In a coda, we meet Will 20 years later, with a son of his own. The Florida section flounders, but Beattie offers gimlet insights on the compromises of marriage, men's emotional armor, sex as escape, the terrors of childhood.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Vintage, 1991. Soft cover. Book Condition: New. 7229 Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng Language: eng. Bookseller Inventory # 2112