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Paperback Malaise: A Novel (Voices of the South) Book

ISBN: 0807129674

ISBN13: 9780807129678

Malaise: A Novel (Voices of the South)

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Book Overview

A New York Times Editor's Choice. Fleming Ford is an Alabama girl exiled to the West coast where she is torn between devotion to her husband and a dangerous love for an older Englishman who seems to... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

What's your malaise level?

California is a love-it-or-hate-it place -- some people would rather live anywhere else, and some people feel that it's practically paradisical. (I fall into the second category, thanks to some months in San Diego) San Diego also happens to be where Nancy Lemann lives, so she seems ideally suited for the story of a Southern woman lost in SoCal. While this is her most "normal" novel, "Malaise" is still a quirky, offbeat story, where people meander aimlessly through pivotal points in their lives. Fleming Ford lives with her two kids (and one on the way) in Esperanza, while her geologist hubby tries to "make the desert bloom." She also feels weirdly disconnected from the ways of SoCal, since her heart is still stuck in the East Coast's South. But when she takes a vacation back in NYC, she encounters her former boss Mr. Lieberman, whom she obviously has a crush on. When Fleming returns to Esperanza, she observes the locals' obsessions on rainfall and various trend-healers. She tries those particular things out, but is more wrapped up in memories of the Deep South and the quirky neighbors -- until Mr. Lieberman shows up, and asks to lunch with her in L.A. Is this is a sign of attraction between them, or a farewell? This is perhaps Lemann's most "normal" novel -- the main character is meditative rather than eccentric, and it seems a dreamy study of SoCal and the "suave yet dilapidated" New York, rather than a study of eccentricity. Plus, there are relatively few mentions of nervous breakdowns or irrational behavior. Consider it a sunnier, more relaxed version of Lemann's past books. But it does retain the quirky characters and eccentricity, like the guy who is obsessed with geraniums. The only problem is perhaps the appearance of too many SoCal stereotypes, like the visceral manipulator. But that's more than made up for by Lemann's understatedly evocative prose, whether describing a lovably decayed city or the deserts ("a lunar-seeming landscape, yet infused infinitely with sun"). There's not much of a plot, but somehow it never quite needs one -- Fleming's story focuses on center around a sort of female midlife crisis. Fleming also seems quite real -- a bit befuddled by her life, adoring her husband and Mr. Lieberman in different ways. But she never loses her head or forgets herself, which makes her rather unusual as a character. "Malaise" is a bittersweet novel, all about a "last love," and a woman reexamining her life in a sunny paradise. Quite different from Lemann's other books, but still endearingly odd. What's your malaise level?

How's your malaise level?

California is a love-it-or-hate-it place -- some people would rather live anywhere else, and some people feel that it's practically paradisical. (I fall into the second category, thanks to some months in San Diego) San Diego also happens to be where Nancy Lemann lives, so she seems ideally suited for the story of a Southern woman lost in SoCal. While this is her most "normal" novel, "Malaise" is still a quirky, offbeat story, where people meander aimlessly through pivotal points in their lives. Fleming Ford lives with her two kids (and one on the way) in Esperanza, while her geologist hubby tries to "make the desert bloom." She also feels weirdly disconnected from the ways of SoCal. But when she takes a vacation back in NYC, she encounters her former boss Mr. Lieberman, whom she obviously has a crush on. When Fleming returns to Esperanza, where the locals obsess on rainfall and visit various trend-healers. She tries that out, but is more wrapped up in memories of the Deep South and the quirky neighbors -- until Mr. Lieberman shows up, and asks to lunch with her in L.A. Is this is a sign of attraction between them, or a farewell? This is perhaps Lemann's most "normal" novel -- the main character is meditative rather than eccentric, and it seems a dreamy study of SoCal and the "suave yet dilapidated" New York, rather than a study of eccentricity. Plus, there are relatively few mentions of nervous breakdowns or irrational behavior. Consider it a sunnier, more relaxed version of Lemann's past books. But it does retain the quirky characters and eccentricity, like the guy who is obsessed with geraniums. The only problem is perhaps the appearance of too many SoCal stereotypes, like the visceral manipulator. But that's more than made up for by Lemann's understatedly evocative prose, whether describing a lovably decayed city or the deserts ("a lunar-seeming landscape, yet infused infinitely with sun"). There's not much of a plot, but somehow it never quite needs one -- Fleming's story focuses on center around a sort of female midlife crisis. Fleming also seems quite real -- a bit befuddled by her life, adoring her husband and Mr. Lieberman in different ways. But she never loses her head or forgets herself. "Malaise" is a bittersweet novel, all about a "last love," and a woman reexamining her life in a sunny paradise. Quite different from Lemann's other books, but still endearingly odd. What's your malaise level?

Delightful

Nancy Lemann's Malaise is a wonderful novel--witty, clever and delightfully snide at times. Lemann has a marvelous, unique approach to storytelling which may turn off some readers, but I really enjoyed it. Reading this novel is like spending time with an old friend with a rapier sharp sarcastic wit. In terms of plotting here, not much happens, but for a novel of about 250 pages, that is OK. Fleming Ford, the narrator, is a 40-year old Southerner living in Esperanza California who becomes a bit obsessed with an older widower she knows from New York. Her out-of-place-ness enables her to observe all around her with a deadpan aloofness that is always funny and at times hilarious. This is a terrific novel and one I highly recommend if you a looking for a brief little sarcastic interlude.

an American treasure

Nancy Lemann is about the most original and hilarious writer I've ever read. Her observations on people, places, and things are so nutty and funny, I find myself reading them again and again. On top of that, every sentence is full of melancholy and longing. They're actually intoxicating. Am I going overboard? I just love this writer and was so happy to have a new novel from her, I took a day off work to read it. (OK, so I hate my job, too.) Malaise is as wacky and wise as all her other books, and in its own oddball way, it's a great novel. Very mature and a little bit risky. There's no pulse pounding plot, it's true, but when I open one of Lemann's books and hear her voice, I can't put it down. I swear, this is one of those writers people are going to "rediscover" in fifty years (Dawn Powell anyone?) so hang on to your first editions.
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