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Starting Out in the Evening
BRIAN MORTON

Starting Out in the Evening by Brian Morton
49 reviews (1998) (325p)
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

Visit this book's Amazon.com page >>


Book Description
"Such a pleasure to read...nothing less than a triumph." -New York Times Book Review

In this "captivating" (Time Out New York) novel, an aging author-now out of print and barely remembered by the literary world that once fleetingly embraced him-is courted by a brash young graduate student who wants to write her thesis on him. What ensues is a story that is at once comical, sensitive and sharply insightful-a work that has already earned astonishing reviews, and that "in every way fulfills the promise of Morton's lovely first novel, The Dylanist. "

"Wonderful...this is what a novel is supposed to be." -Newsday*

"Subtle, tender, and moving." -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Stirring." -San Francisco Chronicle

"Elegant...rich with language and ideas."-Forward

--Includes a Reader's Guide in the back of the book


Amazon.com Review
Brian Morton's Starting Out in the Evening is a study in the danger of expectations. Heather Wolfe, a pretty, brash graduate student, is confident that her thesis on the novelist Leonard Schiller will put her on the literary fast track. Yet her first meeting with her idol produces something of a shock: "He came toward her smiling. Old, fat, bald, leaning awkwardly on a cane. The man of her dreams." Can this elderly author and "man of routines" really be the looming figure whose early fictions changed her life? The more she comes to know Schiller, the more he confounds her: his willingness to toil in obscurity falls far short of Heather's romanticized ideal. She can't even quite decide "if he was a hero or if he had wasted his life."

Schiller, however, views his own life quite differently. At first he's seduced by Heather's flattering attentions, and succumbs to at least a frisson of desire for love and fame. Yet ultimately this thoughtful, dignified man wants only to finish what he has begun. He has "no illusions about the scale of his achievement, but he had tried, through art, to bring a little more beauty, a little more tolerance, a little more coherence into the world." With wise and compassionate prose, Morton examines the intersection of these two lives, intertwining their story with a third one--that of Ariel, Schiller's unhappy 40-year-old daughter. Along the way, the author quietly raises a number of questions about the utility of art, its power to inflect our dreams, and, finally, what makes a life well lived. It is to Morton's credit that he doesn't presume to answer such questions. Yet the skill with which he asks them makes Starting Out in the Evening an elegiac and deeply affecting novel. --Marianne Painter


Brian Morton Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 1  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 1  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 0  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 0  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 0  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 0  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 1 Starting Out in the Evening ·  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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