Kio Stark's Reviews > Desperate Characters

Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
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's review
May 14, 11

really liked it

Just re-read this because I'll be introducing Fox at a reading during BEA week. I got to interview her when it was released in 1999. She is full of kindness, while the book is delightfully mean.

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Chris Coffman Interesting you characterise her as full of kindness. I have the greatest admiration for her writing--she is one of America's greatest masters of prose--and yet the cruelty in her sensibility is almost tangible. I think I've read every novel she's written.

She has had a remarkable life, and a long one, and perhaps she has mellowed and healed. It would be interesting to know what novel she might write now, based on how you characterise her; her insight into human nature has always been remarkable--I wonder what she would write now? I'm thinking something above and beyond FRANNY AND ZOOEY, but who knows . . .

message 2: by Kio (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kio Stark I agree that her writing is cruel, but she's a lovely person. Have you read her recent memoir? I'm not sure she's still writing fiction...

message 3: by Chris (last edited Sep 10, 2011 03:07PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Chris Coffman I've read BORROWED FINERY, if that's the one you mean . . . I felt that was a little self-absorbed (understandably, I guess, given the genre) . . . do you know about her background? Her mother aborted several children but waited too long to abort Paula, which was how Paula was born. Paula herself gave up her own child for adoption, and only decades later, when her now-adult daughter found her, did Paula learn that she is the grandmother of Courtney Love . . . most of her novels are strongly (but not purely) autobiographical and her remarkable life is reflected in them. She is an exceptionally talented writer and has benefited from many kindnesses in her life, beginning with the Congregationalist minister who raised her, the Columbia administrators who recognised her talent and admitted her as an adult student, and no doubt including her husband of many decades . . . but somehow the sensibility out of which she writes still reflects the wild cruelty of her mother (Elsie, I think) which must be an authentic element in her nature as well . . . but I'm very relieved to hear you say that she is a such a lovely, kind person now

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