Left to Themselves

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( 10 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780679401018: Left to Themselves

The arrival of Lucette becomes a catalyst for a change in Harry's relationship with his cousin Cynthia and in Cynthia's aimless lifestyle, in the story of the drifting, disconnected inhabitants of a Cleveland neighborhood. A first novel. 10,000 first printing.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A curiously aimless first novel that covers about a year in the lives of its emotionally inept, blue-collar Ohio characters, but feels as if it lasts a decade. Pretty Lucette, fresh out of high school and working as a drugstore clerk, meets Harry in a local bar. He's older, in his 30s, and known to be fond of women and booze. In short order, Harry and Lucette are a twosome and things get cozy--until Harry goes on a binge at just about the same time that Lucette discovers she's pregnant. Meanwhile, Harry's cousin Cynthia, living in her grandmother's house and working part-time as a cashier in a convenience store, allows her husband and son to move away and begin a new life as she clings to her old house and old dreams about Harry. How will all these people resolve their crises? ``Left to themselves,'' the publisher's blurb promises, ``they drift, disconnect.'' That they do, taking the novel with them. Pregnant Lucette moves away temporarily and returns with an unlikely new romance. Cynthia, abandoning the question of her marriage, becomes fixated on Lucette's imminent baby. And Harry, the eye of this unformed storm, just continues on his path. No high winds here, no torrents of remorse, nothing destroyed, nothing resolved, nothing much--a nameless, untropical depression. It's Grimm's own fairy tale, and they all lived hopelessly ever after. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Life in small-town Ohio is closely circumscribed in this sensitive, meticulously rendered but finally unsatisfying first novel by award-winning story writer Grimm. The plot turns on a familial love triangle. Bony Cynthia, with her "long old hair," lives in her grandparents' house with her son, Joey, and an apathetic, dimly drawn husband. Her boozing cousin Harry, with whom she is infatuated, sleeps at the house unless he has a woman on the string. Nowadays that woman is blond, withdrawn Lucette, who becomes pregnant. The older generation are dead, vanished or crazy; Lucette and Harry both have mumbling mothers whom they treat with glassy-eyed repugnance. Grimm creates exquisite vignettes--e.g., a "home astrology party" ("like Tupperware") where tempers are tested--and adroitly builds up each character's isolation and emotional myopia: the keen awareness of one's skin, pulse, gut, sticky throat, clicking teeth; close-up shots of fingers twisting tea-bag strings, tapping at dials. While the novel is deftly wrought, such finickiness drains it of forward drive. Characters coast past one another, unable to engage, and the plot idles. Most problematic is the opaque, unmagnetic Harry, over whom Cynthia and Lucette are supposed rivals. Instead of forcing confrontations, Grimm brings on more minor characters and leaves the reader hungering for something to happen.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Mary Grimm
Published by Random House (1993)
ISBN 10: 0679401016 ISBN 13: 9780679401018
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Mary Grimm
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