Alice McDermott is the author of six previous novels, including After This; Child of My Heart; Charming Billy, winner of the 1998 National Book Award; and At Weddings and Wakes, all published by FSG. That Night, At Weddings and Wakes, and After This were all finalists for the Pulitzer Prize. McDermott lives with her family outside Washington, D.C.
Meet Alice McDermott
For more details about Alice’s tour, visit http://us.macmillan.com/Tour.aspx?id=1473&publisher=fsgadult.
09/11/13 — Politics & Prose, Washington, D.C.
09/12/13 — Barnes & Noble Upper East Side, New York, NY
09/18/13 — Wellesley Booksmith, Wellesley, MA
09/19/13 — Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
09/21/13 — Book Court, Brooklyn, NY
09/25/13 — Common Good Bookstore at Weyerhauser Chapel, St. Paul, MN
09/26/13 — Book Celler at The Music Box Theater, Chicago, IL
09/27/13 — Anderson’s Bookstore (off-site), Naperville, IL
09/28/13 — Boswell Books, Milwaukee, WI
10/02/13 — Tattered Cover Colfax Avenue, Denver, CO
10/03/13 — Bookpeople, Austin, TX
10/04/13 — Watermark Books (off-site), Wichita, KS
10/07/13 — Book Passage, Ferry Building, San Francisco, CA
10/08/13 — Great Good Place for Books/Montclair Presbyterian Church, Oakland, CA
10/09/13 — Elliott Bay at the Seattle Public Central Library, Seattle, WA
10/10/13 — Los Angeles Public Library, ALOUD Series, Los Angeles, CA
10/11/13 — Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena, CA
10/17/13 — Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn, NY
10/20/13 — Nicola's Books, Ann Arbor, MI
10/21/13 — Detroit Book & Author Luncheon, Detroit, MI
12/05/13 — Philadelphia Free Library, Philadelphia, PA
02/12/14 — Brooklyn Academy of Music/Eat, Drink & Be Literary, Brooklyn, NY
02/13/14 — Ireland House/NYU, New York, NY
Excerpt from book:
Pegeen Chehab walked up from the subway in the evening light. Her good spring coat was powder blue; her shoes were black and covered the insteps of her long feet. Her hat was beige with something dark along the crown, a brown feather or two. There was a certain asymmetry to her shoulders. She had a loping, hunchbacked walk. She had, always, a bit of black hair along her cheek, straggling to her shoulder, her bun coming undone. She carried her purse in the lightest clasp of her fingers, down along the side of her leg, which made her seem listless and weary even as she covered the distance quickly enough, the gray sidewalk from subway to parlor floor and basement of the house next door.
I was on the stoop of my own house, waiting for my father. Pegeen paused to say hello.
She was not a pretty girl particularly; there was a narrowness to her eyes and a wideness to her jaw, crooked teeth, wild eyebrows, and a faint mustache. She had her Syrian father’s thick dark hair, but also the permanent scattered flush, just under the fair skin, of her Irish mother’s broad cheeks. She had a job in lower Manhattan in this, her first year out of Manual Training, and, she said, she didn’t like the people there. She didn’t like a single one of them. She ran a bare hand along the stone balustrade above my head. The other, which lightly held the strap of her purse, wore a dove-gray glove. She’d lost its partner somewhere, she said. And laughed with her crooked teeth. Fourth pair this month, she
Praise for Someone:
“[McDermott’s] sentences know themselves so beautifully: what each has to deliver and how best to do it, within a modicum of space, with minimal fuss . . . She understands that nothing is unalloyed, not kindness or cruelty, not gladness or despair. Here, in the most deceptively ordinary language, she evokes both the world of light and that of darkness . . . [Someone] has something of the quality of a slide show . . . Each slide, each scene, from the ostensibly inconsequential to the clearly momentous, is illuminated with equal care. The effect on the reader is of sitting alongside the narrator, sharing the task of sifting the salvaged fragments of her life, watching her puzzle over, rearrange and reconsider them—and at last, but without any particular urgency or certitude, tilting herself in the direction of finally discerning their significance. This is a quiet business, but it’s the sense-making we all engage in, the narrative work that allows us to construct a coherent framework for our everyday existence. It’s also a serious business, the essential work of an examined life . . . McDermott’s excellence is on ample display here.” —Leah Hager Cohen, The New York Times Book Review
“One of the great strengths of [Someone] lies in this sense of tenderness and intimacy, of empathy for the human condition . . . The narrative unfolds slowly, through small moments of beauty and vividness . . . The moments are small, but packed with complexity and emotion . . . There are many reasons to write a novel. One—maybe the best—is to bear compassionate witness to what it is to be alive, in this place, this time. This kind of novel is necessary to us. We need to know about other lives: This kind of knowledge expands our understanding, it enlarges our souls. There are differences between us, but there are things we share. Fear and vulnerability, joy and passion, the capacity for love and pain and grief: Those are common to us all. Those are the things that great novelists explore. And it’s this exploration, made with tenderness, wisdom and caritas, that’s at the heart of Alice McDermott’s masterpiece.” —Roxana Robinson, The Washington Post
“Just as McDermott manages to write lyrically in plain language, she is able to find the drama in uninflected experience. This is the grand accomplishment of Someone, a deceptively simple book that is, in fact, extraordinarily artful, a novel that traces the arc of an unexceptional, almost anonymous life and, seemingly by accident though of course on purpose, turns a run-of-the-mill story into a poem.” —Charles McNulty, The Los Angeles Times
“[Someone is] filled with subtle insights and abundant empathy and grace.” —USA Today
“‘Ordinary’ is a word that’s used a lot to describe McDermott’s characters, mostly Irish and working class, mostly un-heroic in any splashy way. McDermott’s heroine is named Marie and in Someone, we readers hear, in a fragmented way, about the marathon span of her life . . . yet in McDermott’s unsentimental rendering, Marie’s ordinary life becomes one for the record books. That’s the spectacular power of McDermott’s writing: Without ever putting on literary airs, she reveals to us what's distinct about characters who don’t have the ego or eloquence to make a case for themselves as being anything special . . . [McDermott is] a master of silence and gesture.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR
“In this deceptively simple tour de force, McDermott . . . lays bare the keenly observed life of Marie Commeford, an ordinary woman whose compromised eyesight makes her both figuratively and literally unable to see the world for what it is . . .