Claudia Casper The Reconstruction

ISBN 13: 9780312151997

The Reconstruction

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9780312151997: The Reconstruction
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While meticulously creating a life-sized model of "Lucy," humankind's ancestral link to the primate world, Margaret, a sculptor, finds herself exploring more deeply her own life, her loveless marriage, and her feelings of decay and despair. A first novel.

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Review:

The title of Claudia Casper's first novel, The Reconstruction refers to the skeletal remains of Lucy, a fine example of Australopithecus, an early forerunner of modern-day Homo sapiens. Protagonist Margaret is a sculptor in the midst of a life crisis who, in the course of assembling casts of Lucy's bones for a museum model, begins reconstructing her own life as well. As she searches for clues about Lucy's prehistoric life to give form to her ancient acquaintance, Margaret finds herself pondering the facts of her own past, from the death of her mother years before to her recent exit from a loveless marriage.

In Margaret, Claudia Casper has created a delightful, quirky protagonist, one who lives on in memory after the book is done. Though the path she treads to self-knowledge may be one mapped in many other novels, Margaret definitely chooses the most scenic route, managing in the process to surprise the reader at almost every turn in the road.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Vancouver writer Casper's bleak but compelling debut depicts a sculptor's breakdown and recovery while she is constructing a model of a human ancestor. It's a bad time for Margaret. Her husband has just left her. She scorns her current project (building a giant hummingbird for an aviary gift shop) but desperately needs the money. She takes to her bed, unplugs her phone, and muffs the hummingbird job. Salvation comes when she's hired by the local natural history museum to construct a replica of a female Australopithecus afarensis, an early human ancestor whose brain was not much bigger than a chimp's. Soon, her wooden ex-husband is forgotten as Margaret attempts not only to find a shape and posture for her creature, but also to imagine herself back in its world. She starts seeing her colleagues as apes, their behavior at meetings as dominance display, their language merely a replacement for grooming. Somehow freed by these musings, she's soon working on her own sculpture for the first time in three years, dealing with painful memories of her mother's death, and amusing herself by striding ape-style down empty streets. Under pressure from museum officials, she shows up for a fund-raising event at about the same time, and after chatting up donors, she and some friends go to a jazz club. There, playing the saxophone, is Phillip, the object of Margaret's erotic fixation--a man with whom she'd had a one-night-stand in the dying days of her marriage. Phillip is captivated, particularly by a desolate chimp-hoot Margaret makes when they finally stumble out of the club, and Margaret's reconnection with the human world begins. Casper wisely downplays the metaphors here, so they never detract from Margaret's believability: She's a fierce and damaged woman, with imaginative gifts that give birth to some odd and entirely convincing moments of self-discovery. An unusual, unprettified, and ultimately haunting character portrait. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780312181642: The Reconstruction

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