Edward Hardy Keeper and Kid: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780312375249

Keeper and Kid: A Novel

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9780312375249: Keeper and Kid: A Novel

Keeper and Kid is a marvel. I dare you. Open this book and try to put it down.” ---Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Room

Eight years ago, James Keeper fell in love with his upstairs neighbor in Boston, a sassy pastry chef with gray eyes and a fierce attitude. They got married, found a dog, and shopped for cilantro. But conflicting schedules and a real estate deal gone bad took its toll on the twenty-somethings in love. One divorce later, the hand-me-down chairs were separated, the potato masher custody settled, and Keeper moved to Providence to work with his best friend selling antiques at a quirky shop called Love and Death.

A new job, a new love, and a new life now in place, Keeper is in a comfortable situation. Business is steady, Leah (the new love) is intriguing and passionate, and Keeper’s friends always turn up for Sunday evening Card Night.

But one phone call from his former mother-in-law changes everything. And so days later, Keeper comes away with a son he never knew he had, and life all of a sudden takes on a new meaning.

Leo, the precocious three-year-old who sports Keeper’s square chin, is more than a handful---he eats only round foods, refuses to bathe, thinks he’s a bear, and refers to Leah as “that man.” For a guy who never thought he’d be a parent, Keeper is thrown headfirst into fatherhood---and has no idea what to do. As Keeper and Leo adjust to the shock of each other and their suddenly very different lives, Keeper begins to let the people in his life in, in turns strange and heartwarming, funny and painful. But some, like Leah, aren’t so eager for change.

In this humorous and poignant novel, Edward Hardy explores the depths of modern love, parenthood, and compromise. Keeper and Kid is the story of how a normal guy receives an unexpected gift and in turn must learn to ask more of others and himself. A coming-of-age story for the guy who thought he had already grown up, Keeper and Kid is a sharp and witty account of what we do for love.

 

Advance Praise for Keeper and Kid

“A fine, fetching novel with a good heart. Keeper is nimble and affecting, a tribute to the author’s endless comic inventiveness.”---Stewart O’Nan, author of The Good Wife

“At once immensely engaging and about the things that matter most: how we love, how we move on, how the past moves with us. Lovely, wise, and surprising.”---Elizabeth Graver, author of The Honey Thief

“Ed Hardy’s voice in Keeper and Kid grabs you and won’t let you go until the very last page. Full of local color, bittersweet characters, and a story we can all relate to---the day your past arrives on the doorstep of your present life.”---Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Room

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About the Author:

Edward Hardy is the author of the novel Geyser Life, grew up in Ithaca, N.Y., has an MFA from Cornell, and has published stories in Ploughshares, GQ, Witness, The Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, and other literary magazines. His work has been included in The Best American Short Stories.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter 1
If dogs, rats, and pigs can all sense a looming earthquake and make plans, how come all I can manage is a quick stare at the phone just before it rings? I was at work, wishing for another cup of coffee. It was 9:32 and they were playing Big Maybell on WRIU’s Hard Boiled Jazz show, at some other Cynthia’s request, so her name was already in the air. There was no one else in the shop. Just me, searching the Web to gauge how much the prewar Lionel trains and rolling stock in the box at my feet might be worth.
On the second ring I picked up and said, “Love and Death,” as that’s the shop’s name. It’s one half of this antique store salvage yard empire that my middle-school buddy Tim asked me to come down to Providence and help run. That was four years ago, shortly after everything in Boston spun apart.
“Jimmy?” It was Joan, Cynthia’s mom and my ex-mother-in-law. My shoulders hiked because everybody here calls me something else. To Tim, I’m Keeper, my last name. Leah, my girlfriend, calls me Keeper, too, but she’s working on making the switch to James.
“Joan? How did—”
“I called Tim at home, which was Cynthia’s idea.” Usually Joan sounded like the high school vice principal she used to be, but right then her voice felt thin, as if it were pushing out from under a rock. “Did you move?” she asked. “Would a forwarding message have been so hard?” Her tongue made a click. “This will be a shock,” she said, “but Cynthia really is quite sick and I am not using that term lightly. She would like to see you. Today.”
My first thought, which I knew had to be wrong, was that Cynthia had a cold or bronchitis, pneumonia at the worst. Something you could solve with soup. Cynthia never got sick. She was one of those healthy-as-a-horse exemptions you’d expect to read about in some study. I used to think it was all that adrenaline, knocking off viruses right and left before they could get a toehold. “What do you mean sick?” I asked.
“Exactly what I said.” Joan’s tongue clicked again. “We’re at Mass General and she would like you to visit. Early afternoon is generally a good time for her.”
A heating oil truck downshifted on Wickenden Street. I closed my eyes.
“Jimmy,” Joan said, “Cynthia would like to ask a favor.” Even from an hour away I could tell that Joan didn’t like the idea of this.
I said, “What room?”
She hung up. I stared at the phone, examining the holes in the red handset the way everyone always does in the movies.
Mass General, I thought. Okay, I can find the room. And yes, it annoyed me that Joan wouldn’t say what had happened, but it wasn’t a surprise. I had already decided that whatever it was couldn’t be that bad. Cynthia was tough. Tougher than me by a factor of ten. Cynthia. All those days, and a lot of them, most of them, good enough to be scary. Even then, in certain moments it still felt like I had done something wrong.
The snow-amplified sun kept pushing through the windows, reflecting off the hairdressing shop’s plate glass across the street. Big Maybell kept on singing. I needed coffee. I still had the phone in my hand. It was still red. It felt like that night when I was ten, staring out my bedroom window when I should have been asleep, watching as the sky turned white because a meteor landed three states away and not knowing until the next morning what it was I’d seen. 
Copyright © 2007 by Edward Hardy. All rights reserved.

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