Wednesday, December 16, 11am
Left Bank Books Online Meeting
THIS BOOK GROUP MEETING IS ONLINE. EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org FOR MEETING LINK.
Join Novel Ideas for a reading group discussion of Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken.
Get Bowlaway for 20% off by phone and online during the months of November and December!
When the main character of your book is a candlepin bowling alley, that book can be allowed to go in many directions. Elizabeth McCracken makes the mundane and the weird incredibly interesting. I would easily compare this book to Big Fish with its grasp on what is reality and what is folklore. I loved the journey! The incredible research that you can tell went into this book makes it a stellar read!
— From Shane
A sweeping and enchanting new novel from the widely beloved, award-winning author Elizabeth McCracken about three generations of an unconventional New England family who own and operate a candlepin bowling alley
From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century—nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold on her person—Bertha Truitt is an enigma to everyone in Salford, Massachusetts. She has no past to speak of, or at least none she is willing to reveal, and her mysterious origin scandalizes and intrigues the townspeople, as does her choice to marry and start a family with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revived her. But Bertha is plucky, tenacious, and entrepreneurial, and the bowling alley she opens quickly becomes Salford’s most defining landmark—with Bertha its most notable resident.
When Bertha dies in a freak accident, her past resurfaces in the form of a heretofore-unheard-of son, who arrives in Salford claiming he is heir apparent to Truitt Alleys. Soon it becomes clear that, even in her death, Bertha’s defining spirit and the implications of her obfuscations live on, infecting and affecting future generations through inheritance battles, murky paternities, and hidden wills.
In a voice laced with insight and her signature sharp humor, Elizabeth McCracken has written an epic family saga set against the backdrop of twentieth-century America. Bowlaway is both a stunning feat of language and a brilliant unraveling of a family’s myths and secrets, its passions and betrayals, and the ties that bind and the rifts that divide.
About the Author
Elizabeth McCracken is the author of six books, including Bowlaway, Thunderstruck & Other Stories (winner of the 2014 Story Prize and long-listed for the National Book Award), and The Giant’s House (a National Book Award finalist). Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, won three Pushcart Prizes, a National Magazine Award, and an O. Henry Prize. She has served on the faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently holds the James Michener Chair for Fiction at the University of Texas at Austin.
“Wildly entertaining... [A] wonderfully unpredictable multi-generational saga which revolves around a Massachusetts bowling alley.... Bowlaway celebrates the oddest of oddballs and the freakiest of freak accidents with wit and heart. To read McCracken’s inimitably clever sentences and follow her quirky narrative twists is to be constantly delighted.”
“Death and life, frosted with macabre comedy.... [McCracken] lures us in with her witty voice and oddball characters but then kicks the wind out of us. She never misses the infamous 7-10 split, managing to hit Annie Proulx and Anne Tyler with the same ball.... Endlessly surprising.”
— Washington Post
“An oddball masterpiece.... Elizabeth McCracken holds a funhouse mirror up to the Great American Novel. Whimsy and weirdness spark at Bowlaway’s edges.... This is McCracken’s masterpiece, a story of reinvention.... The author has reframed the family saga for the misfit: that truest American character.”
— Entertainment Weekly
“McCracken’s newest novel, a 20th-century family epic centered on candlepin bowling, is populated by strange, excellent characters, and unfolds with all the offbeat coziness and heartache of a great American fable: molasses floods, workplace fires, surprising heirs, and all.”
— Vanity Fair
“[McCracken has] considerable gifts as a novelist [and] instinctive access to the most intricate threads of human thought and feeling.... This novel’s cast grows epic, but McCracken is always most impressive when she works small, when she is describing movie kisses or corsets or simply loneliness and longing.”
— New York Times