9780007132447

July, July

O'Brien, Tim

ISBN 10: 0007132441 / 0-00-713244-1
ISBN 13: 9780007132447
Publisher: Flamingo
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Softcover
About this title:
Synopsis:
At a thirty-year reunion, a group of old friends tell the story of their lives - and the story of a generation - in this brilliant new novel from one of America's most celebrated writers. What happened to all those hopes and ideals? After thirty years, a group of friends are reunited in their old college gymnasium for a weekend of dancing and drinking, reminiscence and revelation. A mop manufacturer and a bigamist, a war veteran and a trophy wife, a glamour model and a defrocked priest - each character has an extraordinary tale to tell in the compelling new novel from former National Book Award-winner Tim O'Brien.

About the Author:
Tim O'Brien was born in Minnesota, and graduated from Macalester College in St Paul. He served as an infantryman in Vietnam and after graduate studies at Harvard worked as a national affairs reporter for the Washington Post. He first came to prominence in 1973 with If I Die in a Combat Zone, the compelling, fictionalised account of his time in Vietnam. His highly acclaimed novels include Going After Cacciato, winner of the 1979 National Book Award in Fiction, The Things They Carried, In the Lake of the Woods and Tomcat in Love. 'Tim O'Brien ranks among the best.' JOSEPH HELLER

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Class of '69

The reunion dance had started only an hour ago, but already a good many of
the dancers were tipsy, and most others were well along, and now the gossip was
flowing and confessions were under way and old flames were being extinguished
and rekindled under cardboard stars in the Darton Hall College gymnasium.

Amy Robinson was telling Jan Huebner, a former roommate, about the murder
last year of Karen Burns, another former roommate. It's such a Karen sort of
thing, Amy said. Getting killed like that. Nobody else. Only Karen.

Right, Jan said. She waited a moment. Move your tongue, sugar.
Details.

Amy made a weary, dispirited movement with her shoulders. Nothing new,
I'm afraid. Same old Karen story, naive as a valentine. Trust the world. Get
squished.

Poor girl, Jan said.

Poor woman, said Amy.

Jan winced and said, Woman, corpse, whatever. Still single, I suppose?
Karen?

Naturally.

And some guy -- ?

Naturally.

God, Jan said.

Yeah, yeah, said Amy.

Earlier in the evening, they had liberated a bottle of Darton Hall vodka,
which was now almost gone, and both of them were feeling the sting of strong
spirits and misplaced sentiment. They were fifty-three years old. They were
drunk. They were divorced. Time and heartbreak had exacted a toll. Amy Robinson
still had her boyish figure, her button nose and freckles, but collegiate
perkiness had been replaced by something taut and haggard. Jan Huebner had never
been perky. She'd never been pretty, or cute, or even passable, and at the
moment her bleached hair and plucked eyebrows and Midnight Plum lipstick offered
only the most dubious correctives.

What I love about men, Jan was saying, is their basic overall
cockiness. That much I adore. Follow me?

I do, said Amy.

Take away that, what the heck have you got?

You've got zero.

Ha! said Jan.

Cheers, said Amy.

Pricks, said Jan.

They fell quiet then, sipping vodka, watching the class of '69 rediscover
itself on a polished gymnasium dance floor. Unofficially, this was a thirtieth
reunion -- one year tardy due to someone's oversight, an irony that had been much
discussed over cocktails that evening, and much joked about, though not yet
entirely deciphered. Still, it made them feel special. And so, too, did the fact
that they were convening on a deserted campus, in the heart of summer, more than
a month after the standard graduation-day gatherings. The school had a forlorn,
haunted feel to it, many memories, many ghosts, which seemed appropriate.

Well, Jan Huebner finally said. Bad news, of course -- Karen's dead. But
here's some good news. Gal never went through a divorce.

That's a fact, said Amy.

I mean, ouch.

Ouch is accurate, Amy said.

Jan nodded. Twenty-nine years, almost thirty, and guess what? That slick
ex-hubby of mine, Richard the Oily, he grins and waves at me and strolls out the
door. Doesn't walk, doesn't run. Strolls. Talk about murder. Am I wrong about
that?

You are not wrong, said Amy.

We're discussing the male gender, aren't we?

We are.

Well, there's your moral, Jan said. One way or the other, they'll kill
you dead. Every time, flowers and gravestones. No exceptions.

Stone dead, Amy said, and leaned back to scan the crowd of aging
dancers. Thirty-one years, she thought. A new world. After a time she sighed and
freshened their drinks and said, What say we get laid tonight?

Yes, ma'am, said Jan. By pricks.

For sure.

Big, dumb, bald ones.

Amy raised her glass. To Karen Burns.

To divorce, said Jan, and then she turned and waved at Marv Bertel, a
come-dance-with-us motion, but Marv shook his head, tapped his chest, and leaned
back heavily against the bar.

Marv was recovering from a dance with Spook Spinelli, wondering if his
heart could take another hit. He doubted it. He doubted, too, that he should
risk another bourbon, except the drink was already in his hand, cold as a
coffin, and might quiet the jump in his heart. Partly the problem was Spook
Spinelli: those daredevil eyes of hers, that candid, little-girl laugh. Over
half a lifetime, through two tepid marriages, Marv had been massaging the
fantasy that something might develop between them. Pitiful, he thought, yet even
now he couldn't stop hoping. All those years, all that wee-hour solitaire, and
he was still snagged up in Spook Spinelli. Also, of course, there was the issue
of a failing triple bypass, the butter in his arteries, the abundant flab at his
waist. All the same, Marv reasoned, this was a goddamn reunion, possibly his
last, so he knocked the drink back and asked the bartender for one more, on the
rocks, double trouble.

Across the gym, under a flashing blue spotlight, Spook Spinelli was
dancing with Billy McMann. They were hamming it up, making faces, being sexy for
each other, but Billy did not once take his eyes off Dorothy Stier, who stood
talking near the bandstand with Paulette Haslo. After three decades, Billy still
hated Dorothy. He also loved her. The love and the hate had hardened inside him,
one reinforcing the other like layers of brick and mortar. In a few minutes,
Billy decided, he would treat himself to another drink, or maybe three or four,
and then he would amble up to Dorothy and explain the love-hate dynamic to her
in all its historic detail.

Dorothy knew Billy was watching. She knew, too, that Billy still loved
her. Later, she told herself, there would be time to take him outside and admit
to the terrible mistake she had made in 1969. Not that it was a mistake, not in
the long run, because Dorothy had a sweet husband and two incredible kids and
memberships in a couple of smart-set country clubs. Still, if Billy needed a
lie, she saw no harm in offering one. Almost certainly she would kiss him.
Almost certainly she would cry a little. For now, though, Dorothy was busy
telling Paulette Haslo about her breast cancer, which thank God was in
remission, and how supportive her sweet husband and two incredible kids had
been.

It was July 7, 2000, a humid Friday evening.

The war was over, passions were moot, and the band played a slow,
hollowed-out version of an old Buffalo Springfield tune. For everyone, there was
a sense of nostalgia made fluid by present possibility.

So sad, so bizarre, Amy Robinson was saying, but so predictable, too.
The old Karenness, that's what killed her. She never stopped being Karen.

Who did it? said Jan Huebner.

Amy wagged her head. Nobody knows for sure. Some guy she had a crush on,
some creep, which is par for Karen's course. Never any luck.

Never, ever, Jan said. And the thing is, she could've been a knockout,
all the ingredients. That gorgeous red hair, tons and tons of it. I mean, she
was a knockout.

Weight problem, of course, said Amy.

So true, said Jan.

Plus her age. Face it, she was piling up the mileage like all of us. Amy
sighed. Total shame, isn't it? The golden generation. Such big dreams -- kick
ass, never die -- but somehow it all went poof. Hard thing to swallow, but
biology doesn't have politics. The old bod, you know? Just keeps doing its
silly, deadly, boring shit.

True again, said Jan, and blinked down at her hands. What happened to
us?

Got me, said Amy.

Maybe the Monkees.

Sorry?

Plain as day, Jan said. A whole generation kicks off with the Monkees,
how the heck could we expect things to work out? ‘I'm a believer, I couldn't
leave her' -- I mean, yikes, talk about starting off on the wrong foot. So naive
I want to cry. Last train to Clarksville, babe, and we're all aboard.

Amy nodded. You're right, she said.

Of course I'm right, said Jan.

May I ask a question?

Ask.

Where's our vodka?

Similar conversations were occurring all across the darkened gym. Death,
marriage, children, divorce, betrayal, loss, grief, disease: these were among
the topics that generated a low, liquid hum beneath the surface of the music. At
a table near the bar, three classmates sat discussing Amy Robinson's recent good
fortune, how after years of horrid luck she had finally met a decent guy, a math
teacher, and how on her honeymoon the two of them had won a sweepstakes or a
bingo tournament or a state lottery, something of the sort, no one knew quite
what. In any case, Amy was now very well off, thank you, with a fat bank account
and a brand-new Mercedes and a swimming pool the size of Arkansas. Her marriage,
though, had failed. Barely two weeks, someone said, and someone else said,
Talk about irony. Poor Amy. Finally gets lucky, lands a guy, and then the guy
turns unlucky. Back to square one. Even her good luck goes rotten.

Thirty-one years ago, in the brutal spring of 1969, Amy Robinson and many
others had lived beyond themselves, elevated by the times. There was good and
evil. There was moral heat. But this was the year 2000, a new millennium,
congeniality in public places, hope gone stale, morons become millionaires, and
the gossip was about Ellie Abbott's depression, Dorothy Stier's breast cancer,
Spook Spinelli's successful double marriage and the fact that she seemed to be
going for a triple that evening with either Marv Bertel or Billy McMann.

The terrible thing, Jan Huebner was saying, is that Karen was obviously
the best of us. Huge heart. Full of delusions, I'll grant you, but the girl
never once ga...


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O'Brien, Tim
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Book Description: HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 129 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. At a thirty-year reunion, a group of old friends tell the story of their lives - and the story of a generation - in this brilliant new novel from one of America s most celebrated writers. What happened to all those hopes and ideals? After thirty years, a group of friends are reunited in their old college gymnasium for a weekend of dancing and drinking, reminiscence and revelation. A mop manufacturer and a bigamist, a war veteran and a trophy wife, a glamour model and a defrocked priest - each character has an extraordinary tale to tell in the compelling new novel from former National Book Award-winner Tim O Brien. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780007132447

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Book Description: HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 129 mm. Language: English Brand New Book. At a thirty-year reunion, a group of old friends tell the story of their lives - and the story of a generation - in this brilliant new novel from one of America s most celebrated writers. What happened to all those hopes and ideals? After thirty years, a group of friends are reunited in their old college gymnasium for a weekend of dancing and drinking, reminiscence and revelation. A mop manufacturer and a bigamist, a war veteran and a trophy wife, a glamour model and a defrocked priest - each character has an extraordinary tale to tell in the compelling new novel from former National Book Award-winner Tim O Brien. Bookseller Inventory # AA89780007132447

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