Levi S. Peterson Aspen Marooney

ISBN 13: 9781560850786

Aspen Marooney

3.39 avg rating
( 31 ratings by Goodreads )
 
9781560850786: Aspen Marooney

In this quietly seductive novel--Levi S. Peterson's latest foray into the ever-intriguing topics of memory, regret, and sin--a suspenseful ambiance is created from the backdrop of a rural high school reunion. While acquaintances interact tentatively at first, then more freely, Aspen confronts a particularly dark secret from her past. But there is also hilarity here. Despite everyone's best attempts to impress former classmates, they gradually reveal their true selves; lapsing into old habits, they demonstrate how little has changed. This makes for a particularly satisfying reunion and, for readers, a compelling vicarious experience.

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About the Author:

Levi S. Peterson, professor of English at Weber State University, is the author of Aspen Marooney, The Backslider, The Canyons of Grace: Stories, Juanita Brooks: Mormon Woman Historian, and Night Soil: New Stories. He is the editor of Greening Wheat: Fifteen Mormon Short Stories and a contributor to Bright Angels and Familiars: Contemporary Mormon Stories, A Literary History of the American West, Multiply and Replenish: Mormon Essays on Sex and Family, Tending the Garden: Essays on Mormon Literature, Where Coyotes Howl and Wind Blows Free: Growing Up in the West, and The Wilderness of Faith: Essays on Contemporary Mormon Thought. He has received Best Book and Best Short Story awards from the Association for Mormon Letters, the BYU Center for the Study of Christian Values in Literature, the Mountain West Center for Regional Studies (USU), and the Utah Arts Council.

Review:

Set in 1991, the main action of this novel takes place 40 years earlier. The Richfield High School Class of 1951 has gathered for its 40th reunion, and there are going to be some major revelations before the weekend is through. Durfrey Haslam, a man obsessed with his memories of high school, was supposed to have married Aspen Marooney, but she broke his heart those many years ago by breaking off their wedding plans. The two have much to talk about when they meet, not the least of which is that despite their respective spouses, they are still very much in love with each other. Straightforward enough, but Peterson's (Canyons of Grace) handling of it is a curiously mixed bag. On the one hand, the story jumps from viewpoint to viewpoint, providing too much background information and occasionally jolting the reader out of the narrative. On the other, Peterson's characters are interesting, and the leisurely pace is perfect for this tale of love, memory, regret and guilt. The ambiguous ending will also please some while alienating others beguiled into expecting a straightforward love story. --Publishers Weekly

In his latest novel, Levi Peterson uses the tableau of a forty-year high school class reunion to explore the tension between how we would like to live our lives and how we actually do. Where, between passion and morality, do each of us exist and how comfortable are we in the world we have, over the years, created for ourselves and our loved ones? Have we been able to learn the lesson of life, which, according to Aspen, is "to get the better of ourselves"? And, finally, when ourselves get the better of us, to whom are we accountable? As with other Peterson works, Aspen Marooney offers a realistic portrait of rural Utah life but this time the backdrop is as colored with classism as it is with religion. During their high school years Durfey Haslam and Aspen Marooney were forbidden by her parents to date "`When the Haslams marry . . . their wives sink to their level. I've never known of a case where it was the other way around'." But they did much more than date. Ultimately, though, they don't marry. Instead they wonder about what might have been. For forty years. And when they finally reunite, the years have washed the passion and intimacy away . . . or have they? It's hard to guess what might happen. Since Levi Peterson doesn't create main characters who can ignore their moral consciousness, the only question that remains is "How will each of the characters face the past and continue to live in the present?" Peterson's characters answer this question in honest, thought provoking ways. When Durfey rejoins his family in Cedar City (where they are attending the annual Shakespeare festival) he sums up his class-reunion experience by saying, "I've been surveying the earth from the perspective of the Class of '51 . . . It's a strange angle to see things from." It may seem strange to Durfey, but for Levi Peterson's readers it will seem oddly familiar. --Jane Reilly, Western American Literature

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