Karen Olsson Waterloo: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780374286262

Waterloo: A Novel

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9780374286262: Waterloo: A Novel
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Waterloo: A Novel, by Olsson, Karen

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About the Author:

Karen Olsson is a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly and a former editor of The Texas Observer. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baffler, The Nation, and other publications, and has Awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for best investigative reporting and best news feature. She lives in Austin, Texas. This is her first novel.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Excerpted from Waterloo by Karen Olsson. Copyright © 2005 by Karen Olsson. Published in October, 2005 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.

PART ONE
One

His ability to put tasks in sequence was the first thing to go. William Stanley Sabert, the former congressman, ambled into the kitchen, carrying in his good hand, the left one, a glass tumbler. With the weaker hand, the only partially recovered right, he pressed a sheaf of papers to his ribs, but not carefully enough: his attention slipped and then the papers slipped, they fluttered to the floor. Pick them up, he told himself. He could not. Certain capillaries in his brain had gone dry; they dangled like shrunken empty gloves. He couldn’t pick up the legal-pad pages he’d covered with notes or the hearing transcripts or—where did that come from?—the Christmas card that slid out from the sprawl. The notion of retrieving all of it loomed and then faded, as showers of tiny particles, boluses, bits and pieces of the midbrain clot that had just exploded inside his head, infiltrated the network of his vessels. He couldn’t pick up the pages on the floor because first he would have had to put the drinking glass down. He would have had to lean over. He would have had to reach for the papers and clasp them with his good hand. The sequence of steps had escaped him.

It was his third stroke, though, and he did have an idea of the enemy. He fought back. He’d come into the kitchen to fix something to eat. He intended to do that. No matter that making a sandwich was a more complex task than fetching the papers that had fallen. He opened the refrigerator and set his drinking glass on the top shelf next to the orange juice. He closed the refrigerator. He took a bag of English muffins from the breadbox, pulled open the oven door, and placed the bag inside the oven. Next, tuna fish—but as he straightened himself Sabert saw only color, throbbing reds and greens. When the room returned, pale and blurry, his eyes were flooded. He touched his sleeve to his face.

Dishes sat in the sink; errant cashews and flakes of cereal lurked under the cabinets; mice lived in the breadbox. And that was just the kitchen. There were also the hairs clouding the bathroom floor, the towels heaped in a corner, the bottle of chardonnay forgotten in the toilet tank. A shelf in the bedroom closet had collapsed, and a hail of campaign buttons and umbrellas and old photographs and the silver serving forks from his first marriage (Delia had taken the spoons) had landed among shoes and old pine inserts. For all his storied acuity, his talent for clarification, for cutting through legislative knots in a few incisive strokes, Will Sabert had always been a force of entropy.

And now these papers spilled across the linoleum. He’d collected them to show the reporter, to help explain the work that had engaged him over the past year. What a relief, a pleasure, to have stumbled upon such a project, one that gave shape to his solitary days. High time he revealed it to someone. A legal method: he had discovered it, having devoted to that end many weeks of research, quite a lot of sorting through precedent and records of international tribunals. A method to end all wars, this was, entailing minimal adjustments to current statutes and treaty agreements. He had condensed the argument in favor of it, that is to say the argument for ending war, to a simple, watertight petition that could be understood by any high school student. It was clear, after all, that the wars of the twentieth century had been unjust, unnecessary, and without question, inefficient from the point of view of costs. He’d hoped to live long enough to expand his premise into a book, but lately he’d begun to fear otherwise. Hence his plan to go over it all with the reporter. There was some doubt in his mind, though, as to whether the reporter had already come and gone.

The first stroke had been almost twenty years earlier: a tingling on the way to the cafeteria, and by the time he sat down to eat, his hand and arm had gone numb. He pretended to have lost his appetite. By later that afternoon he was back to normal. He went on working just as before.

The next one had followed his retirement. A headache, unlike any headache he’d ever had. Icicles splitting his skull into pieces. A trip to the hospital, a poor prognosis. That time his whole right side crumpled, and proper names hid themselves. He could say the words son and daughter but the names of his own children wouldn’t give themselves up.

Now his mind was beset by a cascade, a closet shelf falling, an avalanche of old possessions. His children, his mother, his first bicycle, his dog. The fountain he and his brother had ridden their bicycles to on the terraced grounds of the state Capitol, a fountain long since bulldozed to make way for office buildings and parking garages. Its water had spouted from pink gargoyles’ mouths: there, one terrible hot day when he was ten or eleven, an older boy trying to hawk a few bruised peaches had taken a swing at Will, after Will had called him a capitalist. He dodged the punch. His little brother Robbie had gotten it instead. Smacked in the face. Bloody nose. Scared to fight, Will had grabbed Robbie’s arm and run away. This was his last memory.

No one was there to see the former congressman back up against the countertop and slide down the cabinet face. His shirt caught against a drawer pull and tore; his hip fractured; his great old moppy head fell to one side and was still.

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Book Description Hardcover. Condition: New. Ships From Canada. New in new dust jacket. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 307 p. Audience: General/trade. Book Description "'"You're in a slump. "'" Nick Lasseter's boss is talking about his job performance as a reporter for the Waterloo Weekly--but he might as well be talking about Nick's whole life. His current assignment, a profile of a legendary, liberal ex-congressman, is in trouble even before his subject abruptly dies. His sexy girlfriend has spurned him in favor of a muffin magnate. His uncle, a booze-fueled political operative, has decided to crash on Nick's couch after being thrown out of his own house. And Nick's best friends and ex-bandmates seem to spend more and more of their time at the local bar, hazily lamenting a lost golden age of high ideals and low cover charges that suspiciously coincides with their own rapidly-disappearing youth. When Nick grudgingly agrees to write a piece about a rising female Republican legislator, he stumbles onto a polit. Seller Inventory # 9101583569

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Book Description Gordonsville, Virginia, U.S.A.: Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2005. Hardcover. Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. Book Description "You're in a slump." Nick Lasseter's boss is talking about his job performance as a reporter for the Waterloo Weekly--but he might as well be talking about Nick's whole life. His current assignment, a profile of a legendary, liberal ex-congressman, is in trouble even before his subject abruptly dies. His sexy girlfriend has spurned him in favor of a muffin magnate. His uncle, a booze-fueled political operative, has decided to crash on Nick's couch after being thrown out of his own house. And Nick's best friends and ex-bandmates seem to spend more and more of their time at the local bar, hazily lamenting a lost golden age of high ideals and low cover charges that suspiciously coincides with their own rapidly-disappearing youth. When Nick grudgingly agrees to write a piece about a rising female Republican legislator, he stumbles onto a political fight in which the good guys and bad guys start to seem interchangeable. And not even the deceased can be relied on to stick to their stories when Nick gets involved with the late congressman's confidante, a young woman who has her own hidden ties to the town's history. As they search the dim depths of a civic past that's anything but dead and buried, they find that some things never change--things like the moral ambiguity of practical politics and the sad, hilarious cluelessness of young men in love. Bittersweet and biting, elegiac and sharply observed, Waterloo is a portrait of a generation in search of itself--and a love letter to the slackers, rockers, hustlers, hacks, and hangers-on who populate Austin, Texas--from a formidable new intelligence in American fiction. About the Author Karen Olsson is a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly and a former editor of The Texas Observer. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baffler, The Nation, and other publications, and has Awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies for best investigative reporting and best news feature. She lives in Austin, Texas. This is her first novel. Seller Inventory # ABE-904473340

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