Elizabeth Berg Ordinary Life: Stories

ISBN 13: 9781480501669

Ordinary Life: Stories

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9781480501669: Ordinary Life: Stories

In this superb collection of short stories, Elizabeth Berg takes us into remarkable moments in the lives of women, when memories and events come together to create a sense of coherence, understanding, and change. In “Ordinary Life,” Mavis McPherson locks herself in the bathroom for a week, shutting out her husband and the realities of their life together―and, no, she isn’t contemplating a divorce. She just needs some time to think, to take stock of her life, and to arrive, finally, at a surprising conclusion.

In “White Dwarf” and “Martin’s Letter to Nan,” the secrets of a marriage are revealed with the sensitivity and “brilliant insights about the human condition” (Detroit Free Press) that have become a trademark of Berg’s writing. The Charlotte Observer has said, “Berg captures the way women think as well as any writer.” Those qualities of wisdom and insight are everywhere present in Ordinary Life.

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Review:

The characters in Ordinary Life, Elizabeth Berg's collection of limpid, gemlike stories, are poised at the edge of knowing, and it takes only quiet events--a kiss, the return of a freed bird--to nudge them toward whatever they need to face, even if it is behind them. The title story, in which an elderly woman named Mavis McPherson locks herself in the bathroom for a week, contains the germ of Berg's message about the importance of the small, the everyday. Mavis's urge to retreat began when she found a photograph from 1946 of her husband and brother-in-law asleep. Behind them was a table, on which sat a porcelain figure, now broken, that had been her mother's.

She'd wished she had more pictures of everything she used to have, thought Mavis, all her furniture, even her old refrigerator, and what was in it, too: the big, square blocks of butter in the ribbed glass container, the old flowered mixing bowls she used to have holding leftovers, covered with waxed paper and anchored with rubber bands. How could she have known that ordinary life would have such allure later on?
Berg, a writer from Chicago whose 2000 novel Open House was an Oprah book-club selection, should appeal to readers who like the straightforward prose and clarity of Sue Miller and Jayne Anne Phillips. --Regina Marler

From the Back Cover:

“Immediate, moment-to-moment storytelling that unfolds with the naturalism and authenticity of real life.” —The Boston Globe

“An extraordinary short story collection that deserves our closest attention.” —Detroit Free Press

“Elizabeth Berg’s gift as a storyteller lies most powerfully in her ability to find the extraordinary in the ordinary, the remarkable in the everyday.” —The Boston Globe

“Berg’s...deftly drawn pictures of ordinary life can help remind us of its oft-unheeded charms.” —Los Angeles Times

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