Thursday, February 18, 2010

"After This" by Alice McDermott

Does the typical twenty-first-century American family resemble the Keanes? Has the very definition of family shifted? What would the future likely hold for Clare and Gregory?

For more information about Alice McDermott, check out:


Anonymous said...

I really liked this book. Perhaps it was the familiarity of life in the 50's, 60's & early 70's. Annie & I would have been about the same age. Even though I grew up with far more advantages, many of my friends grew up in homes similar to the Keanes and one of my best friends was Catholic.

I remember visiting the World's Fair, I remember when abortion was illegal and of course, I remember the Viet Nam War and the efforts that the boys went to in order to be deferred. First they only needed to go to graduate school after college (the boys who couldn't go to college were all drafted unless they had a medical deferrment), then they needed to be married and finally they needed to have a child. No commitment problems back then.

I felt that Michael's fantasy of what he would have liked Jacob's life to be like if he had survived and the realization that Jacob was really very courageous in his own way to be very poignant -- the most poignant passage in the book.

The Keane family seemed like a real one as did their circumstances and their reactions to everything that happened.

Anonymous said...

First, I found the book "so-so". Not any situations I haven't heard before.

I did not care for her method of writing. It wsa like I was listening to someone rambling on and on, and in the midst of rambling if you blinked you missed something. She also, at random, injected things that would happen in the future -- important things that owuld happen to a family member were treated as a sentence in a page or two of rambling about on an unrelated subject.

Did we really care about all the actions in the typing pool or whose breasts hung over their typewriters? This may have shown that Mary Rose was ready to jump at the first guy who smiled at her.

Did we really care about the actions of people and how much was taking place on line at the Worlds Fair and also who was sweating a lot or not?

The changes that took place in family values over the timespan as written were Zeitgeist (hey - I have to use my college social psychology words someplace!)

These changes were happening across the board in many families in post WWII America whether they were Irish Catholic, Protestant or Jewish and they continue to change.

I would like to know what Mary Rose liked about John that she didn't find in George.

Anonymous said...

I found this book tough going. It described many scenes in a very detailed and explicit fashion. Although the book I was reading was Large Print, I found a 20-page beach scene too descriptive. It took 15 pages waiting on line at the World's Fair to just see a statue.

When the youngest daughter, Clare, started dating, there followed a long list (too long in my opinion) on FIRSTS.

With that much said, I will confess that this book, in all its detail, brought back memories of my own trip to the Worlds Fair in 1964, which I had forgotten. And I probably would never have remembered it if not for the detailed description in this book.

Alon with my friends, I was called to sing at a funeral for an eleven year old girl last weekend. Throughout the service, I kept thinking of all the FIRSTS that this little girl will never experience. (Clare had them).

Even while reading this book and thinking that I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I should, it left me richer. It was very thought provoking. Much more so than many a book that I thoroughly enjoyed while reading, and then promptly forgot about.

It was, after all, a good selection of a book.