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The dive from Clausen's pier
Ann Packer
Adult Fiction PACKER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Packer's engrossing debut novel begins without ostentation. On Memorial Day, Carrie Bell and her fianc, Mike Mayer, drive out to Clausen's Pier for their annual ritual, a picnic with their friends, a trip they make the way a middle-aged couple might, in grudging silence. Before their resentments can be aired, Mike dives into too shallow water, suffering injuries that change their lives. If Mike survives, he will survive as a quadriplegic, and Carrie faces unexpected responsibilities. Ultimately, Carrie does what is both understandable and unthinkable. She leaves her hometown of Madison, Wis., and shows up on the doorstep of a friend in New York City. There she discovers a different world, different friends and a different self. The hovering question what will Carrie do? Abandon Mike or return to him? generates genuine suspense. Packer portrays her characters both New Yorkers and Madisonites deftly, and her scenes unfold with uncommon clarity. But if Packer has a keen eye, she has an even keener ear. The dialogue is usually witty; more important, it is always surprising, as if the characters were actually thinking one of the reasons they become as familiar to the reader as childhood friends. The recipient of several awards, Packer is also the author of Mendocino and Other Stories. Clearly, she has honed her skills writing short fiction. What is unexpected is the assurance she brings to a larger canvas. In quiet but beautiful prose, Packer tells a complex and subtly constructed story of friendship, love and the hold the past has on the present. This is the sort of book one reads dying to know what happens to the characters, but loves for its wisdom: it sees the world with more clarity than you do. (Apr.) Forecast: Packer has had a Cadillac career Yale, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, the O. Henry Prize, work in the New Yorker and Ploughshares. All of this bodes well for sales, but stellar reviews and word of mouth will do most for this absorbing first novel. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

The university town of Madison has become a cocoon for Carrie and her friends, providing both security and frustration. When her longtime boyfriend, Mike, is injured, Carrie flees to New York City. Ann Packer's THE DIVE FROM CLAUSEN'S PIER (Knopf. 2002. ISBN 0-375-41282-4. $24; pap. Vintage. 2003. ISBN 0-375-72713-2. $14) captures twentysomething angst, as well as universal feelings of indecision, love, desire, and belonging. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Carrie Bell
Female
Age: 23
Engaged
Mike's fiancee; doesn't want to marry him; aspiring fashion designer.

Mike Mayer
Male
Age: 20s
Engaged
Carrie's fiance.

Jamie
Female
Age: 20s
Carrie's best friend.

Kilroy
Male
Moody; secretive.



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