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Larry's Party

Shields, Carol.

7,384 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0679308776 / ISBN 13: 9780679308775
Published by Random House of Canada, Toronto, 1997
Hardcover
From W. Lamm (Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Hard Cover. SIGNED by author. 8vo - over 7 3/4" - 9 3/4" tall. 339 pages. Book Condition: Near Fine. Dust Jacket Condition: Near Fine. A touch of very mild shelf/edge wear to DJ, else Fine. SIGNED and Inscribed (8/9/97) by the late author on the title page to Canadian journalist Steve Hunt. A photograph of Carol Shields is affixed with removable tape to inside of front board. First Edition. First Printing. Protected in a new Brodart cover. Collectible.; Signed by Author(s). Bookseller Inventory # 00862

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Larry's Party

Publisher: Random House of Canada, Toronto

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition; First Printing.

About this title

Synopsis:

At 26, Larry Weller thinks his future lies in flowers. He still lives at home, has a new career as a floral designer, and a girlfriend about whom he is somewhat ambivalent. What Larry is about to discover is that life is never a straightforward path. His girlfriend becomes pregnant. They marry and set off for their honeymoon in England where Larry stumbles upon what will become his greatest passion in life. He takes up the creation and construction of meticulous mazes, which leads him down blind alleys and dead ends, failed marriages and changing expectations. It all comes together in an unforgettable dinner party in this warm and witty coming-of-middle-age novel. Published four years after The Stone Diaries, Larry's Party won the UK's Orange Prize for fiction and is one of Carol Shields's most critically successful works. Published in numerous editions by Penguin, the book has now sold more than 100,000 copies in the United States alone. This audio recording, first released in audiocassette in Canada in 1998, received wide critical acclaim in its original edition.

Review:

Larry Weller is a regular guy, or so Carol Shields has him think. When we first meet him in 1977 Winnipeg at age 26, he's pondering the pluses of Harris tweed, still living at home, and realizing he's in love with his girlfriend, Dorrie, a flinty car saleswoman. Larry is proud of his job at Flowerfolks, even though he fell into floral design by accident, and if his relationship with his parents isn't perfect, it's not too bad, either. (Stu and Flo Weller may have less page-time in Larry's Party, but they are hugely memorable. He is a master upholsterer, happiest when working; she is a woman ruined by nervous guilt, having inadvertently killed off her mother-in-law with some improperly preserved green beans.)

Carol Shields has said that she had "always been struck by the fact that in most novels people aren't working." Though her hero climbs the floral managerial trellis for 17 years and finds more rhapsody in work than marriage, Larry and Dorrie's honeymoon in England points him toward what will be his true vocation--mazes. These living constructs turn him into a thinker, a man of imagination, and the author's descriptions are quietly spectacular as well as effortlessly sweet. Larry wonders at their "teasing elegance and circularity ... a snail, a scribble, a doodle on the earth's skin with no other directed purpose but to wind its sinuous way around itself." Just as Larry changes with the times--each elliptical chapter ages him by one or two years--so does his art. In 1990, he designs a maze in which you can't really lose yourself. In 1997, the McCord Maze "is intended to mirror the descent into unconscious sleep, followed by a slow awakening." Larry, too, has a slow awakening, taking several false turns before reaching midlife. As the novel closes, with a bravura dinner party scene, he may finally be at ease in the world. But his creator knows that he is only halfway there, and still has to negotiate his way from the center of the maze to its exit.

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