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Making it up
Lively, Penelope
Adult Fiction LIVELY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In this engrossing, perverse challenge to genre "an anti-memoir" Booker Award novelist Lively (Moon Tiger, 1987) explores the road not taken. What if her family, evacuating Egypt during WWII, had traveled to South Africa rather than Palestine? What if a date that ended chastely had led to unwed motherhood? What if her husband-to-be had been captured in Korea? What if that other Penelope had taken up with Achilles? What if Lively, who eventually became a writer, had, as a student, gone on an archeological dig? "This book is fiction," Lively warns. The narratives are inventions, rendered by an omniscient voice, framed by brief, evocative autobiographical passages, and peopled by non-Penelopes. Lively achieves "the authenticity of fiction" in their credibility, but she lived none of these alternative lives. Writers and would-be writers will be intrigued to observe the transformation of life into literature. Readers may enjoy wrestling with questions of choice and chance in human affairs, or they may settle for a series of neatly crafted tales. The vividly imagined lives stir up questions far more thought provoking than the simple "what if?" As Lively so elegantly demonstrates, "The paths do not so much fork as flourish." Agent, Emma Sweeny. (On sale Oct. 24) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Lively (Moon Tiger) invents new versions of herself in a series of tales she calls "anti-memoir." A true version of the events in her life appears at the preface or conclusion to these graceful stories, which might well serve as lessons for would-be writers on how to create fiction from real life. This series of "what-ifs," or roads not taken, considers how Lively's life might have turned out had the ship on which she sailed as a girl escaping wartime Cairo been torpedoed; had her sexual initiation resulted in an unplanned pregnancy; and had the man she married ended up, as he very nearly might have, being sent to fight in the Korean conflict. At times, the character of Lively is the main attraction, while at others she is an off-stage presence. But in every case, she proves as captivating and intriguing as we can only assume the author must be. A gemlike collection by a consummate storyteller; highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/05.]-Barbara Love, Kingston Frontenac P.L., Kingston, Ont. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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