Carry the One
"C""arry the One "begins in the hours following Carmen's wedding reception, when a car filled with stoned, drunk, and sleepy guests accidentally hits and kills a girl on a dark country road. For the next twenty-five years, those involved, including Carmen and her brother and sister, craft their lives in response to this single tragic moment. As one character says, "When you add us up, you always have to carry the one." Through friendships and love affairs; marriage and divorce; parenthood, holidays, and the modest calamities and triumphs of ordinary days, "Carry the One "shows how one life affects another and how those who thrive and those who self-destruct are closer to each other than we'd expect. As they seek redemption through addiction, social justice, and art, Anshaw's characters reflect our deepest pain and longings, our joys, and our transcendent moments of understanding. This wise, wry, and erotically charged novel derives its power and appeal from the author's exquisite use of language; her sympathy for her recognizable, very flawed characters; and her persuasive belief in the transforming forces of time and love.
- Hardback | 272 pages
- 160.02 x 231.14 x 27.94mm | 453.59g
- 06 Mar 2012
- SIMON & SCHUSTER
- New York, NY, United States
- New ed.
Sentence by intelligent sentence, the novelist makes . . . us feel the remorse and joy and fears much more sharply than we can sometimes know those same emotions in the lives of our closest siblings or friends or even in ourselves. . . . Carol Anshaw gets under the skin of her characters and under the reader's, as well. Alan Cheuse, NPR s All Things Considered
About Carol Anshaw
Carol Anshaw is the author of "Aquamarine," "Seven Moves," and "Lucky in the Corner." She has received the Ferro-Grumley Award, the Carl Sandburg Literary Arts Award for Fiction, and a National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing. She lives in Chicago.
Our customer reviews
In 1983, Carmen, who runs a suicide hotline, is pregnant and newly married to Matt Sloan. Leaving the wedding in the wee morning hours, Alice (Carmen's sister - an artist), Maude (Matt's sister), Nick (Carmen's brother - a grad student), Tom (a folk singer - married - boyfriend of the wedding hostess Jean), and Olivia (Nick's new girlfriend, also the driver of the car), all doped up and/or drunk, hit a 10-year-old girl on the road and the little girl dies. This story follows this disparate group of characters and others in the years following the accident. Although it purports to be about how they "carry the one" (the young girl who was killed) with them in their memories afterwards, as I read, other than one particular character, I didn't get this feeling from them at all. The main focus is on Carmen and her siblings, children of a famous artist who seems to resent any artistic success had by Alice. Carmen is actively involved in many social issues. Alice is an artist who falls madly in love with Maude. Nick is a perpetual student who can't get away from drugs. Their lives are basically a train wreck, not because of the accident, but because of their own poor choices. I could not really identify with the characters, but the writing and what I thought would be the storyline did keep me reading to see what happened. In the end, for me, it didn't feel substantial. Maybe it was the shifting perspectives in time and/or character, or maybe it was that I simply couldn't find a character to bond with, but I was never fully caught up in the novel. MAYBE it was because nothing really good happens. I realize that all of life has bad moments, but life isn't ALL bad, and in this novel, there isn't a bright spot to be found. Every time I came across what I THOUGHT would be one, my hopes were dashed to the ground. The writing, however, is impeccable. For me, the story itself just wasn't enjoyable or compelling, and the wonderful writing style couldn't make up for that. It will, however, appeal to many other readers, as attested by the fact that the reviews for this one are all over the board. Readers seem to either love it or feel "meh" about it. QUOTES (from an ARC; may be different in final copy): For a few years after she came out, Alice essentially got dumped by Loretta, who couldn't see the point of being a lesbian. In her scheme of things where men were everything, if you weren't one, or attached to one, what was your value? Carmen said, "I guess I was looking at everything from the wrong angle. I didn't think we were breaking up. I thought he and I were just having this interesting conversation about how to be married in the late twentieth century. And how to go forward, together. It was kind of like when I had all those parking tickets I was contesting with the city. I thought that was a lively back-and-forth, too, and then I came out of the house one day and my car was booted." In order to keep liking Nick (as opposed to loving him, which was non-negotiable), Alice sometimes had to look at him obliquely, or with her eyes half closed, or through a pinhole in a piece of cardboard. Straight on would burn her retinas. On 9/11: By mid-afternoon, Carmen was sifting the text for the subtext. "We're through the information-gathering part. The information is now in. Now they're shaping this for our consumption, imposing a story line. The brave passengers taking the last plane down in the field. The firemen rushing in heedlessly, answering their call to duty. And pretty soon, they'll get the president ready for his close-up to congratulate us for being Americans. This huge unprecedented, unmanageable mess, and all the complexity behind it - they're already starting to manage it. They're making a theater piece out of pure horror so we can watch the unwatchable then get back to the mall." Writing: 4.5 out of 5 stars Plot: 3.5 out of 5 stars Characters: 3 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 2.5 out 5 stars BOOK RATING: 3.4 out of 5 starsshow moreby Julie Smith