Patrick Somerville The Cradle: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780316036115

The Cradle: A Novel

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9780316036115: The Cradle: A Novel
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From a writer and producer of HBO's hit apocalyptic drama series The Leftovers, comes a remarkable tale of devotion, marriage, and parenthood.

Early one summer morning, Matthew Bishop kisses his still-sleeping wife Marissa, gets dressed and eases his truck through Milwaukee, bound for the highway. His wife, pregnant with their first child, has asked him to find the antique cradle taken years before by her mother Caroline when she abandoned Marissa, never to contact her daughter again. Soon to be a mother herself, Marissa now dreams of nothing else but bringing her baby home to the cradle she herself slept in. His wife does not know-does not want to know-where her mother lives, but Matt has an address for Caroline's sister near by and with any luck, he will be home in time for dinner.

Only as Matt tries to track down his wife's mother, he discovers that Caroline, upon leaving Marissa, has led a life increasingly plagued by impulse and irrationality, a mysterious life that grows more inexplicable with each new lead Matt gains, and door he enters. As hours turn into days and Caroline's trail takes Matt from Wisconsin to Minnesota, Illinois, and beyond in search of the cradle, Matt makes a discovery that will forever change Marissa's life, and faces a decision that will challenge everything he has ever known.

Elegant and astonishing, Patrick Somerville tells the story of one man's journey into the heart of marriage, parenthood, and what it means to be a family. Confirming the arrival of an exuberantly talented new writer, THE CRADLE is an uniquely imaginative debut novel that radiates with wisdom and wonder.

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From the Author:

In the summer of 2007, I drove east from Chicago to Virginia on my way to a month-long residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, where I planned to work on...something. 

I 'd made a few false starts with novels in the preceding years, and I'd yet to really hit upon a kind of story, or way of storytelling, that felt right. I had some stored-up ideas with some promise, but no real plan about which one I'd work on.  My simple hope was that I'd figure out something and leave Virginia with chapters I could work with through the fall.  The only question was whether I could deal with the looming, perhaps impossible question of plot.
One hazy idea was simple, linear, and to be set in the contemporary Midwest.  Months before, I had written "person looking for something" on a piece of paper, folded it, and put it in my pocket. The paper was now gone, but it wasn't forgotten.  At the very least, writing about this "person looking for something" seemed like it could train me out of a bad tendency I could no longer deny was a part of my fledgling novel-writing skill-set: I seemed to believe "plot", in terms of our contemporary literary novel, referred to a labyrinthine sequence of events with little or no connection to the shared reality of human beings.  This was my own fault, really, born more of my own anxiety than any opinions I had about other writers or other books.  So far, arbitrary craziness was my answer to dealing with several-hundred pages of text I simply didn't know how to write.  Unfortunately, the problem with arbitrary craziness--sorry, one of many problems--is that it guarantees no reader will care about what comes next. 

Looking back at the few scribbled outlines I made of novel-ideas from that time, and earlier, is like looking at outlines of the small, detailed, and (sadly) postmodern mental breakdowns of a frustrated apprentice.  However, for whatever reason, going to Virginia knocked some sense into me. "Person looking for something", it turns out, is more than enough for a whole novel's plot, even in our fractured 2009, and that's basically the backbone of The Cradle.  The simple premise wasn't an experiment in scaling back at all, nor an exercise, but instead the heart of a straightforward story, stripped down to make room for the characters to roam with a bit more freedom, motivated by reasons that were relatable, and important, not just audacious or absurd.  The book's protagonist, Matt, keeps having to insist to people that things matter, despite how unkempt and arbitrary the world usually appears.  I'm not sure how I felt about the subject when I began writing, but by the time Matt was home again, and I was done with the book, I got the feeling he'd been on to something from the start.

About the Author:

Patrick Somerville is the author of two novels--This Bright River and The Cradle--and two books of short stories--Trouble and The Universe in Miniature in Miniature. He is also a writer and producer on HBO's acclaimed drama series The Leftovers. He lives with his wife and son in Chicago, and he teaches creative writing in the MFA programs at Warren Wilson and Northwestern University.

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9780316036122: The Cradle: A Novel

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ISBN 10:  0316036129 ISBN 13:  9780316036122
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, 2009
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Book Description Little, Brown & Company, United States, 2010. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. In the summer of 1997, a newlywed couple, Matt and Marissa, are living in Wisconsin and expecting their first child. With the baby almost due, Marissa sends Matt on a quest to recover an antique cradle from her mother, who claimed it when she abandoned her family years earlier. Ten years later, a middle-aged couple, Bill and Renee, are living outside Chicago and preparing to see their only son, Adam, off to war in Iraq. Adam's departure brings to the surface deeply personal memories of Renee's first love, and forces the confession of a long-held secret that brings the two stories together in the novel's powerful climax. Elegant and surprising, THE CRADLE tells a story that is warm, wise, and full of wonder. Seller Inventory # BZE9780316036115

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