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About Maggie Shipstead
Maggie Shipstead is the New York Times-bestselling author of the novels Seating Arrangements, Astonish Me, and Great Circle and the winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize and the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction. She is a graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford, and the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
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“A masterpiece ... One of the best books I’ve ever read.” —J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Friends and Strangers
After being rescued as infants from a sinking ocean liner in 1914, Marian and Jamie Graves are raised by their dissolute uncle in Missoula, Montana. There--after encountering a pair of barnstorming pilots passing through town in beat-up biplanes--Marian commences her lifelong love affair with flight. At fourteen she drops out of school and finds an unexpected and dangerous patron in a wealthy bootlegger who provides a plane and subsidizes her lessons, an arrangement that will haunt her for the rest of her life, even as it allows her to fulfill her destiny: circumnavigating the globe by flying over the North and South Poles.
A century later, Hadley Baxter is cast to play Marian in a film that centers on Marian's disappearance in Antarctica. Vibrant, canny, disgusted with the claustrophobia of Hollywood, Hadley is eager to redefine herself after a romantic film franchise has imprisoned her in the grip of cult celebrity. Her immersion into the character of Marian unfolds, thrillingly, alongside Marian's own story, as the two women's fates--and their hunger for self-determination in vastly different geographies and times--collide. Epic and emotional, meticulously researched and gloriously told, Great Circle is a monumental work of art, and a tremendous leap forward for the prodigiously gifted Maggie Shipstead.
National Bestseller • Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction
The irresistible story of a summer New England wedding weekend gone awry—a deliciously biting satirical glimpse into the lives of the well-bred and ill-behaved.
“Beneath the surface of this summery romp lie animosities, well-paced sexual suspense and a clash between appearances and authenticity.” —The New York Times Book Review
The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne—seven months pregnant—to the impeccably appropriate Greyson Duff. The weekend is full of champagne, salt air and practiced bonhomie, but long-buried discontent and simmering lust stir beneath the surface.
Winn Van Meter, father of the bride, is not having a good time. Barred from the exclusive social club he’s been eyeing since birth, he’s also tormented by an inappropriate crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid, Agatha, and the fear that his daughter, Livia—recently heartbroken by the son of his greatest rival—is a too-ready target for the wiles of Greyson’s best man. When old resentments, a beached whale and an escaped lobster are added to the mix, the wedding that should have gone off with military precision threatens to become a spectacle of misbehavior.
Astonish Me is the irresistible story of Joan, a young American dancer who helps a Soviet ballet star, the great Arslan Rusakov, defect in 1975. A flash of fame and a passionate love affair follow, but Joan knows that, onstage and off, she is destined to remain in the background. She will never possess Arslan, and she will never be a prima ballerina. She will rise no higher than the corps, one dancer among many.
After her relationship with Arslan sours, Joan plots to make a new life for herself. She quits ballet, marries a good man, and settles in California with him and their son, Harry. But as the years pass, Joan comes to understand that ballet isn’t finished with her yet, for there is no mistaking that Harry is a prodigy. Through Harry, Joan is pulled back into a world she thought she’d left behind—back into dangerous secrets, and back, inevitably, to Arslan.
Combining a sweeping, operatic plot with subtly observed characters, Maggie Shipstead gives us a novel of stunning intensity and deft psychological nuance. Gripping, dramatic, and brilliantly conjured, Astonish Me confirms Shipstead’s range and ability and raises provocative questions about the nature of talent, the choices we must make in search of fulfillment, and how we square the yearning for comfort with the demands of art.
This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
In this collection of dazzling stories, Maggie Shipstead’s prowess in short fiction is on full display for the first time. Diving into eclectic and vivid settings, from an Olympic village to a deathbed in Paris to a Pacific atoll, and illuminating a cast of indelible characters, Shipstead traverses ordinary and unusual realities with cunning, compassion, and wit. In "Acknowledgments," a male novelist reminisces bitterly on the woman who inspired his first novel, attempting to make peace with his humiliations before the book goes to print. In “The Cowboy Tango,” spanning decades in the open country of Montana, a triangle of love and self-preservation plays out among an aging rancher called the Otter, his nephew, and a young woman named Sammy who works the horses. In “La Moretta,” a couple’s honeymoon in the hills of Romania builds ominously into a moment of shattering tragedy. In the title story, a former child actress breaks with her life in a religious cult, narrating with mesmerizing candor a story of vulnerability, loss, and the surrealism of fame. You Have a Friend in 10A is sophisticated, gripping, and hilarious, comprised of knockout after knockout: a collection to seal Shipstead’s reputation as a versatile master of fiction.
“If he had to referee their squabbles and navigate their quicksilver emotions while sifting through his father’s possessions, he hoped the house would not seem so empty, or he hoped at least the emptiness would be neutral.”
'If only," writes Halimah Marcus, Co-Editor of Electric Literature, in her introduction. "Instead, the emptiness proves quite virile. His father’s possessions are souvenirs of his romance with Simon’s mother (who died suddenly of a brain aneurism at forty-eight), further evidence of desire having its own half-life, independent of bodies and their relationships."
But for Simon, a man who "had always perceived a chaos in women about to break loose," "lust for his first wife has out-lived their marriage, while lust for his current wife is lifeless—bored, as he characterizes it, with her eagerness, her nubility," writes Marcus.
About the author:
Maggie Shipstead grew up in Orange County, CA. Maggie is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. She won the 2012 Dylan Thomas Prize and the 2012 LA Times First Fiction Award for Seating Arrangements. Her short fiction has appeared in The Mississippi Review, The Missouri Review, Glimmer Train, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and Best American Short Stories.
About Recommended Reading:
Great authors inspire us. But what about the stories that inspire them? Recommended Reading, the latest project from Electric Literature, publishes one story every week, each chosen by a great author or editor. In this age of distraction, we uncover writing that's worth slowing down and spending some time with. And in doing so, we help give great writers, literary magazines, and independent presses the recognition (and readership) they deserve.
Ein fesselnder Tanz um Liebe, Leidenschaft und Lebenslügen
Joan steht der Abschied vom Ballett bevor: Sie ist schwanger und ihre Karriere als Tänzerin wahrscheinlich beendet. Sie heiratet Jacob, und das Paar zieht aus New York an die Westküste, wo sich beide stumm nach der Welt des Balletts verzehren: Joan nach dem Tanz, Jacob nach der Tänzerin, die Joan gewesen ist.
Doch ein Leben für den Tanz bedeutet nicht nur Drama, sondern auch hochfliegende Hoffnungen, erhabene Momente.
Eine Hochzeit, Irrtümer und späte Einsichten
Winn van Meter hielt sich immer an die Regeln bürgerlichen Lebens. Mit einem Harvard-Abschluss, einer Mitgliedschaft in den richtigen Clubs, einer Ehefrau mit Herkunftsnachweis und einem angemessen bescheidenen Sommerhaus am Atlantik auf einer der vornehmen Ostküsten-Inseln, ging er davon aus, er werde seinem 60. Geburtstag mit der Gelassenheit eines Mannes entgegensehen, der gut gelebt und sein Leben im Griff hat. Dummerweise kooperieren weder die Vorsehung noch die Familie. Daphne, seine ältere Tochter, schwanger und uneinsichtig, beabsichtigt zu heiraten. Seine jüngere Tochter Livia muss sich von einem Nervenzusammenbruch erholen, und Winn wird feststellen, dass er, entgegen guter Vorsätze, noch immer verrückt nach einer von Daphnes Freundinnen ist, die, jetzt als Brautjungfer, einiges daransetzt, seine Selbsteinschätzung als anständiger Bürger und Familienvater zu unterlaufen...
Ausgezeichnet mit dem Dylan Thomas Prize 2012. Shortlist Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.