Nancy Lemann Malaise: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780743215480

Malaise: A Novel

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( 25 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9780743215480: Malaise: A Novel

Struggling against her California home community of sun worshippers, new-age practitioners, and mall enthusiasts, Alabama-born Fleming Ford finds herself torn between devotion to her husband and an attraction to an older English tycoon who represents the culture and formality she seeks. 12,500 first printing.

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Review:

People either get Nancy Lemann or they don't. Those who do practically worship her for her deeply elegant, eccentric, hilarious novels about displaced Southerners. Those who don't tend to complain that she's too repetitive. That she is, and a good thing, too. In her lovely and odd novel, Malaise, Lemann uses repetition as she does in all her books: as a wellspring for both humor and meaning. Her characters turn phrases over and over in their minds, as if trying to solve them. In Malaise, those phrases concern California, the death of the British Empire, old age, and graciousness. Fleming Ford is a New York journalist, born in Mississippi, whose husband's work takes the family to Esperanza, a San Diegoesque resort city not far from the Mexican border. As always, Lemann's writing wildly conflates the personal and the geographical. Fleming shuns Esperanza as the ends of the earth. At the same time, and not just coincidentally, she falls in love with Mr. Lieberman, an old Englishman who represents the decorousness that she has left behind. Along the way, we get some astonishing writing, like this aside about a visit to Death Valley: "It's so godforsaken, so historical, and so pure that you are curiously elated. It may be called Death Valley, but the minute you get there you are subsumed by a vast and incongruous gaiety." Addled by nostalgia and despair, Lemann's characters are forever bumping into a vast and incongruous gaiety, and telling us about it over and over and over. We wouldn't have it any other way. --Claire Dederer

About the Author:

Nancy Lemann is the author of three previous novels and a nonfiction account of the corruption trial of Louisiana governor Edwin W. Edwards. She has also contributed to Esquire, The New Republic, and The Paris Review. She lives in San Diego, California.

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