Bound [With Earbuds]
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Bound [With Earbuds]

2.99 of 5 stars 2.99  ·  rating details  ·  747 ratings  ·  196 reviews

Antonya Nelson is known for her razor-sharp depictions of contemporary family life in all of its sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious complexity. Her latest novel has roots in her own youth in Wichita, in the neighborhood stalked by the serial killer known as BTK (Bind, Torture, and Kill). A story of wayward love and lost memory, of public and private lives twisting out of c

Unknown Binding, 0 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by Playaway (first published August 24th 2010)
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Carolyn Kellogg
Reviewed in the LA Times

One pleasure of reading Antonya Nelson is that she brings the careful language and control of literary fiction to uncontrolled, rough-and-tumble lives. Mixing the admittedly bourgeois undertaking of meticulously crafted prose with working class grit is risky — it can devolve into condescension or cartoonishness — but Nelson, like Raymond Carver, strikes a remarkable balance.

In "Bound," she turns her talents to a character study of t...more
I’m a proud and vocal book abandoner. If, after giving it the official John Irving try (reading 100 pages in hopes the story gets going named after Irving because A Prayer for Owen Meany takes forever to get going), I’m not enjoying a book I set it aside without a second thought. This is why I don’t often write negative book reviews. Sometimes, though, I will struggle through a book because of some other obligation. Usually that means Rock & Roll Bookclub, and still even then I’ve been known...more
Miles Kelly
I was surprised to read that Antonya Nelson had written nine works of fiction but not surprised to find out that she teaches creative writing. "Bound" is full of great writing about character and background, but never seems to develop any story or characters. Incidents happen, characters interact. Their personal habits and behavior is laboriously described but it is difficult to feel any empathy for them. There is a theme here of people being bound together, and to their animals, but none of the...more
John Frazier
Had I not won this in a Goodreads giveaway, I would not have made it to the end, at which point the only conclusion I could reach was that sometimes life goes in full circles. This is a story largely about a Catherine--the third wife of a philandering entrepreneur--who essentially inherits the lone surviving child of friend who dies in an auto accident (suicide?), a friend from whom she hadn't heard in decades. On the road to fill in the blanks, we're asked to believe that this was a result of a...more
Hope Baugh
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Susan Kavanagh
This was my first introduction to the work of Antonya Nelson. She is an excellent writer with sharply honed descriptive powers. I thought that parts of the book, particularly the beginning, were excellent set pieces. I subsequently discovered that the author is a well known short story writer. I will be looking for her collections of stories. Although this novel did not have the strongest narrative, I did not find the disjunctiveness to be a problem. It is always a pleasure to be introduced to n...more
“Cattie didn’t have friends, really. It seemed like so much work, having friends. From the moment she’d weighed the costs and benefits, Cattie had not consciously sought out the companionship of others” (22).
"Snowflakes had begun falling outside in festive complicity, covering the ugly, muting the unpleasant" (51).
"That would have been right up her very vengeful, extravagant ally" (88).
"Genetically, she'd be inclined to addiction; socially, toward unenlightened attitudes. Her mother's sympathy w...more
I was so excited when I won this book from goodreads. Bound is a character-driven drama that keeps you reading even though it doesn't have much of a story line. Antonya Nelson is a very talented author that describes everything in such detail that you find yourself visualizing it. Nelson's characters were so vivid and unique. The beginning of the book was particularly well written and intense. This book followed the characters in their journeys through life, but the problem is none of the charac...more
"Bound" was written in clear narrative style. That's the first thing that came to mind. Lately it has been all about authors trying to pass off their unique writing styles to make themselves and their books distinguishable. However, Antonya Nelson tried to steer away from that and stuck with the classic narration. I loved how the events, at first, didn't coincide with each other. But as the plot moved on, things started to fall into place. The story ran the entire course of a year (thus the chan...more
Antonya Nelson is not a bad writer, but this is a bad book. I stayed with it out of a perverse fascination to see how it finished. As I should have known, it finished disappointingly. The plot, such as it is, goes something like this: a woman dies in a car crash and is survived by a daughter who is at boarding school. The dead woman has named her childhood friend as the girl's guardian. The friend has mother in a nursing home and a philandering husband and they all live in Wichita, where the BTK...more
I actually really liked this. If there was an option for half-stars, I'd give this 3.5 but since there is not, I'm going to round up.

You will not be interested in this book if you are looking for a plot-driven novel. This is a character-driven novel and the plot is almost secondary, really. I personally really like character-drive novels if the writing is done well and I would be hard pressed to say that Antonya Nelson does not do the writing well in this novel. I could see where her writing mig...more
For me this book was very hard to get into and read. I'm not quite sure why. The plot was good and I wish knew why I had such a hard time with it but no matter how much I've racked my brain I can't figure out what made it just ok for me. I will try to go back and re-read it and see if maybe I just me.
White women have problems, too, and they deal with them by getting matching tattoos on their ankles.

But this book also had dogs in it to sustain the length (she's more known for her short stories) that her vacant characters cannot. Prose craft continues.

Ad nauseam misspelled.

This is my review.
Cathe Olson
Catherine married to an older (cheating) man finds out her childhood best friend has been killed in a car accident and that Catherine is named as the guardian of the friend's 15 year old daughter.

It's hard to say exactly why I really didn't care for this book. The writing was okay, but I found the book confusing as it skipped around so much and there were so many characters and so many stories going on. And I really didn't care about any of the characters either . . . there was nothing that rea...more
I've lost an afternoon in worse ways than I did reading this book, but I have a feeling I'll never think about these characters ever again once I take it back to the library. Line by line, the writing is smooth and technically precise, as I've come to expect from Antonya Nelson, but, as other reviewers have mentioned, the narrative distance is so far away that all of the characters come across as sad and cold and sort of doomed to never break out of the patterns we see them in. Nelson used to be...more
I thought this book was okay. It certainly explores the many ways we are "bound:" by marriage, fear, our past, our families, expectations of/by others, friends, and the places we live. While I enjoyed Catherine's character, I didn't buy her naivete one bit; her wild past would surely have given her a modicum of social awareness. Also, for someone to be so successful at rebelling against her strong mother, she'd definitely be more savvy than the book portrays her. The backdrop of the BTK killer i...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Andy Miller
This novel is set in present day Wichita Kansas and set against the backdrop of an old friendship that started between two girls while in junior high school thirty plus years earlier. They drift apart and lose contact until one is killed in a car accident leaving the other, Catherine, as the guardian of her 15 year old daughter.

There are some great scenes in the book, the description of the car accident starts off the book in riveting fashion. There are great characters, the most interesting was...more
This book was very highly recommended to me. I'm always looking for a story that grabs me by the throat and won't let go, so was looking forward to reading this "guaranteed awesome" book! My verdict? Not bad, but not awesome either.

The story followed several different characters and, as I read the majority of it during my lunch hour, it was a little confusing at times to keep track of everyone. Would have probably been easier if I'd read it straight through, but who has time to do that nowadays?...more
A mother, Misty, dies in a car accident (possible suicide?), leaving behind a teenage daughter (Catherine or Cattie), who is now the legal obligation of the mother's childhood friend, for whom the daughter is named. This childhood friend, again, also named Catherine, must decide whether to take responsibility for this new child in her life, which generally forces her to wander back into her past, in Kansas, a past which she never really left in the first place. And then there's this serial kille...more
Antonya Nelson's Bound is a book that holds lots of promise, but just doesn't seem to really get it togther to quite "bind" the story line.

There is a meandering, stilted quality to this story. The characters are often people I just don't "get". There's Misty, who arrives to the story dead on the scene, with her dog sniffing her corpse, which is trapped in her car, after her car has inadvertently gone over a mountainside and into a ravine. Misty, an ultra reformed recovering addict and alcoholic,...more
I was quite pleased to have received a copy of this book...and even though I can't say that I loved it I'm still glad the book showed up in my mailbox via First Reads and I had a chance to read it.

Opening scene/passage: like others have said in their reviews, quite good. I wish so much intense and heartrending focus hadn't been put on that dog in the opening though because after those very connected moments the dog passes out of the book with barely another mention. Quite frustrating as that dog...more
Amy Palmer
In "Bound", Catherine Desplaines is married to a cheating husband, going innocently about life, when she learns that her high school best friend has been killed in a car accident and has given custody of her teenage daughter to Catherine. My expectation was that the story would center on the relationship between Catherine and this new child in her life, but that relationship didn't begin until there were about 40 pages left in the book. Instead, the book focuses on Catherine and her memories of...more
Antonya Nelson's powers of observation and description are sharp and delightful, and again and again I wished I were reading with a pen or pencil so that I may mark a perfect turn of phrase. I loved slipping into this novel because the world Nelson writes of is both familiar (it's America, and accurately rendered) and surprising (she writes of it in a new, refreshing way). Of course I loved the stuff about teenage girls and their complicated, funny, meaningful, temporary friendships. Of course I...more
Very latter day "New Yorker"ish (makes sense: Nelson has contributed stories to the New Yorker.) Domestic realism and yet with extreme circumstances (a la Munro): car crashes, affairs, etc. Wise in moderation: in the storytelling more than in any overt pronouncements. I hope this isn't making it seem awful. It was great, in fact. I enjoyed peering into this life, as much as Nelson would let me. And the limits of what she would show felt honest: the limits of what can be known, by the people, by...more
I enjoyed Antonya Nelson's interplay between the wild and the domesticated in her characters. She also had one of the most sympathetic portrayals of a phlandering husband that I have read recently. My issue with the book is its length. I find myself saying this often about the books I have read recently, but just as I was getting into the book she stopped it. The main action of the book revolved around Catherine who has unknowingly been named guardian of 15 year old Cattie. When Cattie's mother...more
I won this from FirstReads. The novel begins with a fascinating scene featuring the surviving dog (several dogs play into the novel) in a major car accident. This scene immediately captured my attention and curiosity. However, the following story is not nearly as interesting.

It is primarily a character-driven novel and it is a good thing that Nelson is a good writer. Her characters in this original family drama are fully developed and she clearly understands human nature. One brief paragraph abo...more
Bookmarks Magazine
Both humorous and heartbreaking, Nelson's in-depth character study explores the fragile ties that bind and their capacity to strengthen, change, and dissolve completely. While several critics heaped praise on Nelson for her memorable characters and carefully crafted prose, others had misgivings about confusing shifts in perspective, a lack of plot development, stereotyped males, unresolved loose ends, and the use of the BTK serial killer as a metaphor linking the past to the present. However, th...more
I received this book from a give-away here on Goodreads. It's not a book I would have picked up in a store, which is why I entered the contest. I didn't really have an ideas about the book going in. I found it incredibly easy to read, but not in a way that was boring. The storylines were all really interesting. I think it would have been better if the characters were a little more developed, especially Cattie. She is meant to be such a rebellious sort of girl, but we never find out why, nor do w...more
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Antonya Nelson is the author of nine books of fiction, including Nothing Right and the novels Talking in Bed, Nobody’s Girl, and Living to Tell. Nelson’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, Esquire, Harper’s, Redbook, and many other magazines, as well as in anthologies such as Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and The Best American Short Stories. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA...more
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