By (author) Susanna Kaysen

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  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
  • Format: Hardback | 257 pages
  • Dimensions: 147mm x 213mm x 30mm | 431g
  • Publication date: 18 March 2014
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0385350252
  • ISBN 13: 9780385350259
  • Sales rank: 1,300,645

Product description

""It was probably because I was so often taken away from Cambridge when I was young that I loved it as much as I did . . ." " So begins this novel-from-life by the best-selling author of "Girl, Interrupted, " an exploration of memory and nostalgia set in the 1950s among the academics and artists of Cambridge, Massachusetts. London, Florence, Athens: Susanna, the precocious narrator of "Cambridge, " would rather be home than in any of these places. Uprooted from the streets around Harvard Square, she feels lost and excluded in all the locations to which her father's career takes the family. She comes home with relief--but soon enough wonders if outsiderness may be her permanent condition. Written with a sharp eye for the pretensions--and charms--of the intellectual classes, "Cambridge" captures the mores of an era now past, the ordinary lives of extraordinary people in a singular part of America, and the delights, fears, and longings of childhood.

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Author information

Susanna Kaysen has written the novels "Asa, As I Knew Him" and "Far Afield" and the memoirs "Girl, Interrupted" and "The Camera My Mother Gave Me." She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Review quote

"Twenty years after the publication of "Girl, Interrupted," Kaysen's excoriating memoir about the nearly two years she spent in a psychiatric institution at the end of her teens, she's written a sort of prequel. "Cambridge, " her unflinching, elegiac, quasi-autobiographical new novel, takes us back to the mid-to-late 1950s with a portrait of Susanna as a difficult 7-to-11-year-old at odds with her family, her teachers and herself. The result is both fascinating and heartbreaking, because we know where her abiding unhappiness is going to land her. Verbally gifted, mathematically challenged young Susanna is precocious right down to her moodiness and resentment . . . Kaysen totally nails the dynamic between the sultry pre-adolescent daughter and the sometimes curt mother who, irritatingly, is nearly always right . . . By labeling her clearly personal new book a novel, Kaysen frees herself to shape her material for maximum effect. Her prose is chiseled and powerful . . . "Cambridge" is steeped in nostalgia--a melancholic ache not just for times Susanna has known, but for times she wishes she'd known . . . But Kaysen doesn't fabricate a happy childhood in "Cambridge." Instead, she peels back memories to expose the colossal, obdurate 'colonnaded marble spine' of a lost youth." --Heller McAlpin, "NPR" "Susanna Kaysen is a wonderful writer. The protagonist of "Cambridge, "also named Susanna, [is]""a bright, sensitive, 1950s elementary school student, getting in the way of herself and others. By the time she's nine, she's already mourning her lost youth. At school, she's bored. She explains, 'my capacity for disappointing people was bigger than their capacity for putting up with me.' Susanna is, in other words, the kind of child who will grow up to be a writer. And although "Cambridge" is often funny, Kaysen resists portraying her narrator's eccentricities in a precious way; Susanna is truly, convincingly, gloomy and weird . . . Her parents [had] humble beginnings [bu