See Now Then.

Author:Kincaid, Jamaica
Position:Book review

By Jamaica Kincaid

Jamaica Kincaid, born in St. John's, Antigua, is known for her novels and memoirs, which include Annie John (1985), Lucy (1990), The Autobiography of My Mother (1995), My Brother (1997), and Mr. Potter (2002). Her first short story collection, At the Bottom of the River (1983), was nominated for a PEN/Faulkner award.

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THE STORY: A tale revealing the pitfalls of domestic life, See Now Then centers on Mrs. Sweet, a writer whose composer husband is leaving her for a younger woman. With scenes alternating between the couple's decades together, the novel follows Mr. and Mrs. Sweet through the ugly, despairing moments of their lives in Vermont, where nastiness defines their household and social circle. The Sweet's children, Heracles and Persephone, sport names from Greek mythology, lending an air of antiquity and otherworldliness to this modern story of American discontent. But at heart, the story is a hero's quest for understanding.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 192 pages. $24. ISBN: 9780374180560

Cleveland Plain Dealer ****

"Kincaid tells this ordinary story in a compelling way--a kind of stream of consciousness in which memory, everyday matters, facts, and stifled feelings surface and repeat as the story accumulates. ... This sounds difficult to follow, but the reader remains surprisingly well-oriented in the vast tidal wash of longing and loathing and self-deception." SUSAN GRIMM

Los Angeles Times ****

"Each scene in See Now Then pulses with so much life that one feels it would be possible to rip all its pages from their binding, toss them in the air, and pick up them up individually and read them in any order and still find joy in simply taking in Kincaid's wondrous, soaring and brave prose one random morsel at a time." HECTOR TOBAR

San Francisco Chronicle ****

"For all its reliance on archetypes of familial drama dating back to the Greeks, See Now Then exposes the potential hollowness behind the comfortable facade of the contemporary American household. ... Kincaid seems to be enjoying herself, mocking Mrs. Sweet's sweeping romantic notions, her willful obliviousness and her writing--though it's Mr...

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