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After the Parade

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,667 ratings  ·  304 reviews
From Flannery O’Connor and Rona Jaffe Award winner Lori Ostlund, a debut novel about a man who leaves his longtime partner in New Mexico for a new life in San Francisco, launching him on a tragicomic road trip and into the mysteries of his own Midwestern childhood.

Sensitive, big-hearted, and achingly self-conscious, forty-year-old Aaron Englund long ago escaped the confine
Hardcover, First hardcover edition, 340 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Scribner
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Dee Bruno Yes, way too often for my taste. It felt like aversion to odors and to bodily functions were part of the main character's self definition, his way of …moreYes, way too often for my taste. It felt like aversion to odors and to bodily functions were part of the main character's self definition, his way of keeping the world at arm's length. But it left me with the feeling of being at arm's length as a reader.(less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,667 ratings  ·  304 reviews

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Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: free-from-work
As he stood waiting for the elevator car to tremble and plunge, he began to have what he thought were panic attacks, but these, too, he approached like a Midwesterner, which meant that while everything exploded inside him, from the outside he looked like a man stoically riding the elevator.

this is an amazingly beautiful novel, cataloging the entire spectrum of loneliness. ostlund is a master storyteller, and her characters and situations are touching and raw and honest. when you reduce the novel
Elyse  Walters
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Very cool author....Lori Ostlund is here in Berkeley this weekend! Choose 'anything' by her... novel, short story, essay .. listen to her speak. . it's all good!

As a child, Aaron Englund couldn't remember playing with other children. He had been bullied, punched, taunted, and bitten by other children.
He was sensitive, lonely, and rejected.
It was already a loss having his father die...( even though abusive), but his mother ran off
...."sneaking out without saying good-bye".

As a young adult, A
Diane S ☔
May 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Aaron leaves his partner, a man who he has spent much of his life with. He leaves him in the middle of the night, U-haul packed and ready to go.

There is something so intimate, so real and heartbreaking about these characters. The author treats them and their stories with a great deal of sympathy. As Aaron tires to make it in San Fran, we learn about his past, his abusive father, his non descript mother and those who tormented and bullied him. We meet new people along with him, others we come to
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I found After the Parade a beautiful sad slow read. It starts with Aaron leaving Walter after 20 years together. Walter is much older than Aaron and had taken him in as teenager after Aaron's mother disappeared. The book is a back and forth between what led Aaron to Walter, and what happens to Aaron after he leaves Walter. In the past, we learn about Aaron's harsh father, his troubled mother, his brief stay with an ultra religious aunt and uncle, and his complex feelings of gratitude and ennui v ...more
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
“After the Parade” delivers a powerful emotional punch from a gifted new voice. On the surface, the book is about Aaron Englund, a gay ESL teacher, who leaves his partner of 20 years and moves to San Francisco. Moving between flashbacks and present day, readers learn about Aaron’s past, as well as his new life in California.

Rather than being driven by plot, this book’s genius is in the strength of its characters – those who appear throughout the entire novel, and those who appear for only a fe
Helene Jeppesen
Feb 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5/5 stars.
This is a truly beautiful story about the peculiar patterns life can take, and how those patterns can sometimes seem confusing and bewildering. It took me some time to get into this story about Aaron, whom we meet just after he has made a major decision to leave his life partner, Walter, and move to San Francisco. But once the plot moves back and forth between his childhood and the present, I really got into it and started loving and caring for Aaron.
"After the Parade" is a peculia
Larry H
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I recently devoured Lori Ostlund's short story collection, The Bigness of the World , which I absolutely loved. (See my original review.) I so fell in love with her writing and her storytelling ability that I very quickly jumped into reading her debut novel, After the Parade . While I don't think I loved this book as much as her stories, I continue to be dazzled by Ostlund's talent and her ability to provoke so many different emotions with her writing.

Aaron Englund has been with his older
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: eagerly-read

Those who know me know of my love for the quiet read. And this was so so quietly TRIUMPHANT. Made me happy.

On a first layer it's quite a mundane everyday story, a story like our own personal ones. But on a second layer this is a hero quest. Where Aaron our quiet hero goes on a quest through life wrestling with his own demons and meeting fantastical creatures on the way. Ostlund is able to reach in and bring out uniqueness and beauty from each and everyone of us, so we, the unseen become the see
All the lonely people. Where do they all come from? / All the lonely people. Where do they all belong? Ostlund’s debut novel explores trauma and loneliness through the past and present of the protagonist, an ESL teacher who has just left his long-term partner, as well as the stories of those he meets. Although set over a six-month period, the novel is so full of flashbacks that it feels dense with the weight of the past. At times this can seem more like a set of short stories, only loosely con ...more
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
A deeply felt novel about a sensitive late-30s gay man who leaves his lover of two decades and moves to San Francisco to reinvent himself. But for the wounds of his childhood—which surface with a vengeance—everything would’ve been fabulous; what happens instead is narrated with a deep, aching beauty that just might restore your faith in fiction. Not to mention humanity. A stunning debut.

My BookTube video review:
Lolly K Dandeneau
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"This fumbling in the dark is how life will always be."

Could there be a more perfect sentence? I have to say the book is far more than it's summary. I thought I would just be reading a story about a man moving on from his partner, and while this is true- the story reaches into his past and in the process the reader brushes against other interesting characters. The novel manages to be a heartbreaking, disturbing look at family and the burdens of love. Did I say that? Of course I did, those who
❀Aimee❀ Just one more page...
I liked After the Parade but I've been sitting on this review so I could ponder it a bit.

Aaron leaves his partner of 20 years at the beginning of the book. Readers not only go along with him on his current new beginning, but we are slowly invited into the memories of his childhood. Between both narratives, we begin to understand what things have shaped Aaron and understand the longing of wanting to belong, to understand himself and others, and to know what is next in his life.

I was fascinated a
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
An earth-shattering in a silent way kind of book. Lori Ostlund's debut novel follows forty-year-old Aaron Englund, a sensitive and self-conscious ESL teacher who leaves his relationship of 20 years to move to San Francisco. Though Aaron escaped his lover and his Midwestern hometown, he cannot forget the quiet tragedy that has defined his life: when his mother, Dolores, abandoned him without a word at the age of 17. Aaron cannot come to any sense of true peace until he untangles the mystery of he ...more
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it
This is one of those books that I can't find too much fault in, but I can't find myself feeling overly enthusiastic about it, either. I think this is because the main character, Aaron Englund, was undefined and unremarkable as an adult, even though he was well developed and interesting as a child whom the reader learns about in looking back sequences that comprise more than half the book.

Normally, it bothers me when books keep cutting away from the present to explore past events in the characte
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
He saved me knowing that there is no stronger way to bind another human being to you than by saving him. This is why I must leave.

The day that Aaron Englund adds the 149th reason to his list of 'grievances' is the day (or rather night) that he'll get into a car and drive off, without goodbyes. He'll leave behind a life and his partner Walter, whom he'd been with for 20 years ever since Walter saved him, offering him a way out of his small Minnesota town, paid for his education and filled the vo
Book Riot Community
Forty-year-old Aaron has decided that after twenty years, he is tired of his older partner, Walter. Feeling brave, he strikes out for San Francisco, but learns that freedom is not something you can just declare. Aaron decides he will not be truly free until he makes peace with his unhappy past, his childhood in a small Minnesota town with his larger-than-life misfit family. Ostlund has written a touching, tragiocomic novel of fitting in and getting out, and making peace with your past. This is a ...more
Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Bravo! This was one of those small and quiet stories that oozes out and transcends its discreet little literary corner. There is a beautiful play with thematic elements of language, learning and loneliness that sneaks in complexity and richness that defies the characters and settings. Lovely book.

Also, honest confession... (view spoiler) if anyone has an visual, I would be grateful to

My first book by Lori Ostlund was The Bigness of the World, a wonderful collection of short stories. After the Parade is my second book by the author and it is a full-length novel, though the way the author tells the story of Aaron Englund, a gay ESL teacher, reminds me a lot of her anthology.

Magic and creative power of her writing lie in her ingenious ability to describe and develope the characters. After the Parade is a heartbreaking story of Aaron's life. We have Aaron as a little boy (absol
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Such a beautiful and engaging story, about all love, loss, loneliness and family bonds. The story touch your emotions and I really feelt for Aaron. It's a nearly perfect novel in my opinion, love to follow a personal jorney through emotions and life, will most likely read more by this author. ...more
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was ok
Ostlund's debut novel is perfect for fans of calculated, unrealistic melancholy. It's also for those who are too happy in their own life and need the antidote of sharing in the fictional troubles of others. Certainly there is a large fan base for this material.

After the Parade is another of the recent weepy books full of much crying and emotion, but little action and sparse intellectual interest. Fortunately it's not as tear-soaked as some of the other books in this new literary sub-genre. Still
This is the kind of a thought-provoking book that makes me want to talk about it, share the experience, and at the same time, shut myself in the dark closet and cry with the hopelessness of it all.

Lori Ostlund's prose has touched me deeply. It had made me face my own list of grievances and question my own long-term relationship. Perhaps, because I'm still fighting for it, despite that list, I'd made a mistake of projecting my own hope for the reconciliation, as there's also something to be said
SUSAN   *Nevertheless,she persisted*
This book deserves a proper review,but as I am working straight through until Thanksgiving,it will have to wait. :)
Jessica Treadway
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a heartbreakingly beautiful novel depicting something I wish I saw more often in contemporary fiction: the passage of a character from childhood to the adult he has become, in such a thoroughly detailed and poignant way that we understand how his past informs his present -- the choices he makes, the people he chooses to live among, his passions and his dreams. With the story of Aaron Englund, Lori Ostlund has given us the rare opportunity to inhabit a fictional character almost as fully ...more
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary
This is my first time reading this author and I can't wait to get my hands on more of her work. I'm totally crushing on her writing. She was so eloquent. I loved loved loved her descriptive strokes. They were not overly wordy, but vivid and rich. I admire how she could use so few words but yet have them pack a powerful punch and with this book, it was straight to the heart. I am in love with that particular skill when it comes to words.

I loved the subtle feel. Usually when it comes to describing
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
After the Parade

"...sometimes the most you can do is save yourself"

This is one of those books where when you describe it to someone they sort of look at you dumbfounded and questioning what the hell you might have found interesting about it. One of those books where you go on and on and on describing it and then realizing you're basically giving a summation of the entire book because it has no real plot. But, you really, really, really want said person to understand how wonderful the book is so
Kasa Cotugno
After much soul searching, Aaron leaves Walter, his partner of over 20 years, takes to the road, landing in San Francisco. That's it on the surface. But how he comes to part from his former life and find his true compass is a revelation. Lori Ostlund's debut novel displays an uncompromising knowledge of the human condition and the psychological building blocks that comprise a human's soul. With each episode, more is revealed about Aaron's amazing life and his ability to overcome impediments. Eve ...more
Sep 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Novel received courtesy of giveaway

All of us have one event in our lives that every other event either came before or after. In Aaron Englund's case, that event was before and after the parade where his father fell off of a float and died. As we follow Aaron after he leaves his partner of over 20 years to move to San Francisco, Aaron goes back and forth between the present, his childhood and his life with Walter. The changes in time felt like a very natural way to tell his story. I
Vincent Scarpa
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My interview with Lori, over at Electric Literature:
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book floored me. So amazing and beautiful, such a heart breaking story and full of such humanity. This story is just about a man who is in a long term relationship that isn't going anywhere. He spends time reflecting on his relationship and current life, but also about his tumultuous childhood. This is a story that anyone who has had a family can understand. Even though the main character, Aaron experiences were traumatic, he also grapples with love and hate towards his mother and father. I ...more

A-Z Challenge with Karly and Jess

a = Ostlund, Lori

3 stars

Aaron Englund is an outcast. Friendless, orphaned, abandoned, left to figure out life on his own. Through no fault of his own really, Aaron finds that closing him off to others is the easiest way to cope. Even when surrounded by people, he is lonely, a man unto himself and Ostlund brings you through the story of his life, starting just before and After the Parade.

I believe I am the odd one out on this one. It was an okay read, but nothing
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Lori Ostlund's novel, After the Parade, was published by Scribner in September 2015. Her first book, a story collection entitled The Bigness of the World (University of Georgia Press, 2009), which Scribner will reissue in February 2016, received the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, the California Book Award for First Fiction, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award. Stories from it appe ...more

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