I’ve had this book well over a year, bought it at Sewanee, where I met the author and liked her a lot. Energetic and witty lady. She’d undertaken the visit of a niece and nephew, children of a fundamentalist sister, in hopes of widening their horizons. She’d promised to avoid corrupting them, not an easy task among a community of artists. She brought them to a reading by a Mississippi writer, an 80-plus lady whose name I should know but no longer recall, just knowing they’d be safe. Said little old lady set off a firecracker string of profanities explosive enough for an NFL locker room. Alice shrugged and grinned. I think she was secretly glad the seal had been broken.
I’d read her That Night, found it flawed but full of good writing and hoped for good future material. However, the passages she read at Sewanee seemed flat. And you’d think she’d choose the best in a situation like that, so I put off opening After This out of fear of disappointment. I wish my fears had proved unfounded. This will make two books in a row that I quit on. First time I can’t remember doing that before. I made it to around page 100 and nothing had happened. Lots of details of domestic life, lovingly recorded, but without any dramatic tension. There was even a hurricane and a birth emergency, but no particular consequences or sense of danger about any of it. Maybe I’m too impatient. But I’m still quitting. Too many other books waiting. I wanted to like After This, but after this, no more McDermott for me, I’m afraid.