"I love this book. Profoundly spiritual and hilariously specific...an unusual and intimate epic that manages to capture the wonder and terror of both child and parenthood with an uncanny clarity." (Lena Dunham, best-selling author of Not That Kind of Girl) Edgar and Lucy is a compelling literary masterpiece - a stunning examination of family love and betrayal. Eight-year-old Edgar Fini remembers nothing of the accident people still whisper about. He only knows that his father is gone, his mother has a limp, and his grandmother believes in ghosts. When Edgar meets a man with his own tragic story, the boy begins a journey into a secret wilderness where nothing is clear - not even the line between the living and the dead. In order to save her son, Lucy has no choice but to confront the demons of her past. Profound, shocking, and beautiful, Edgar and Lucy is a thrilling adventure and the unlikeliest of love stories. This program is read by the author. "Edgar and Lucy started with the character’s voices, and the rhythms of their particular ways of speaking... because I have this very distinct sense of the sound and rhythms... I was thrilled to have the opportunity to record the audiobook. Also, having grown up in New Jersey, I felt I could do justice to the world of the novel, and to the north Jersey accent." (Author Victor Lodato on why he chose to narrate his own novel)
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A *starred* reviewed novel by an author that has won critical acclaim for his writing in every discipline. Lodato is a Guggenheim Fellow -- that alone should be everything that needs to be said if you are looking for excellent writing -- he is also an award winning playwright, poet, and novelist. And, here there is the feel to Edgar and Lucy of a play, not directly, but between the lines where Lodato seems to have imbued some magical sense of pause, picture, relate -- then onto the next line. It is a play heavy in image and atmosphere, narrated to a reader. The book seems to contain the human senses, beyond written descriptors. [I''ll explain how this effected me later.]
An intricate plot that would be drawn out like a chart by a psychologist, characters connected by blood, and whose lives are changed by events, the flow of blood, the heredity passed through blood. Edgar is an 8 yr. old albino child raised by his overly protective grandmother. She has doilies, drawer sachets, stills shops from tinkers, butchers, *proprietors.* He thinks of her as his mother, nearly abandoned by his own reckless and vulgar mother (Lucy). Grandma Florence doesn't tell him his mother (her step-daughter) is worthless, but her own decency shows Edgar that Florence represents everything wholesome, and his Lucy is nothing like grandma. Lucy is hard, sexual, foul-mouthed, and most of all absent by choice. Edgar never knew his father who died when he was a baby. We learn later that the father committed suicide, an event that involved Edgar and his mother, who was left with a limp. We also learn that the father had been hospitalized with psychotic episodes -- but in his mad ramblings leading up to the suidcide, we are presented with an odd bit of information that does have some strange precedent on the ending of the book. (pay attention)
The book begins with the passing of Grandma/Mother Florence. Oddly, Edgar knows literally nothing about death, even with his own birth connected to such a violent death. He frets about the details of burial--the coffin--the rituals--the behaviors of the mourners, and the diamond ring still on his grandmother's finger as the coffin is about to be closed. Edgar is a nervous and suspicious child, an oddity regardless of his white skin and almost crystal clear eyes. He later lays out her clothes under the sheets and waits for her to rise.
The story becomes increasingly dark as Lodato expands a very complex plot. Not content to explore a routine kidnapping tale, the author infuses this story with some disturbing twists that at times defy logic. He almost takes the reader through the degrees of the Stockholm syndrome; he plays with your feelings, and it feels uncomfortable and alarming. There are also a number of fantastical elements presented that still have me confused. Knowing a little about the writer's background, I find myself questioning the importance of these mysteries [I won't give them away and spoil your surprise]. Are they significant representations or mere props and stage dressing for a playwright? I'm still unsure.
I am certain that this novel is beautifully written and truly a book that qualifies as haunting--an adjective too often used undeservedly. But, I still can't shake the feeling that I didn't really like it. I didn't see the humor some talk about, or the happy ending. The curtain falls leaving you light-hearted, but all of us know that we are made up of more than our DNA...we are a complex conglomeration of our experiences, which doesn't bode well for Edgar. The few characters supposed to infuse humor into the story didn't eliminate any of the heft of the story for me. I'm happy readers enjoyed it, but it made me sad. I found it disturbing, heartbreaking and a story of cruelty. That's just me expressing to you my honest reaction to this book.
The last paragraph disturbed me, having returned to the scene of the crime with many patients that have been victims of violent crimes. And if you've paid attention to the father's crazy-talk before he plunges off the bridge...work THAT out with your feelings that this book has a simple happy ending. Metaphor, most likely. I think this may be a book that is best read rather than listened to. Recommend; I'm sure this one is destined for awards, but personally I probably would pass--as incongruous and crazy as that sounds.
I was captured by this story from the first paragraph. The author's narration was spot on. There are moments, scenes, passages in this book that are profoundly beautiful. Others are deeply disturbing. I found myself wondering if I could handle it; I was pulled into the story so deeply. My husband was happy when it was over and I came back to reality.
So, obviously, this is not a light read. It is a masterfully told story of family and human relationships and disfunction. Be forewarned- there are several graphic sex scenes. If you are up for it I highly recommend that you dive in.