LOVE AND SHAME AND LOVE by Peter Orner
Kirkus Star

LOVE AND SHAME AND LOVE

KIRKUS REVIEW

Orner anatomizes family relationships with precision in a novel that spans three—and touches on four—generations.

At the center of the author’s examination is Alexander Popper, a fiction writer manqué (he tries in vain to write a “good, sad story”) and reluctant law-school graduate who winds up handling misdemeanor cases for the Cook County Public Defender. His lack of professional accomplishments does not, however, define him as much as his failed relationship with Kat, whom he meets at the University of Michigan. Although they never get married, they eventually have a daughter, Ella. We also learn of Alexander’s exceptional brother, Leo, and their parents, Miriam and Philip, whose unhappy relationship, owing to Philip’s cheating with a family friend, blights Alexander as well as his mother. (Miriam is forced to take temporary jobs such as census taker and lackey in a real-estate office.) And going back yet one more generation, Orner introduces us to Seymour and Bernice. They work their way to prosperity and then see it decline because of some morally questionable business practices on Seymour’s part. These are profoundly unhappy people, trying to make it yet living their lives in such a way as to make unhappiness inevitable. Orner approaches his narrative with a nonlinear chronology, moving back and forth from Seymour’s wartime notes to Bernice, to Alex’s adolescent peccadilloes, to Alex’s letters to Ella. The result is a masterful, multifaceted novel.

Readers will find both love and shame in abundance in Orner’s teeming fictional world.

Pub Date: Nov. 7th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-316-12939-8
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2011




NEW AND NOTABLE FICTION: NOVEMBER 2011:

Fiction 11/22/63 by Stephen King
by Stephen King
Fiction OUT OF OZ by Gregory Maguire
by Gregory Maguire
Fiction PARALLEL STORIES by Péter Nádas
by Péter Nádas
Fiction THE PRAGUE CEMETERY by Umberto Eco
by Umberto Eco

MORE BY PETER ORNER

FictionLAST CAR OVER THE SAGAMORE BRIDGE by Peter Orner
by Peter Orner

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionTHE DANGERS OF PROXIMAL ALPHABETS by Kathleen Alcott
by Kathleen Alcott
IndieTHAT'S THAT by Gaye Walsh
by Gaye Walsh
FictionDYING UNFINISHED by María Espinosa
by María Espinosa