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Hardcover The Shape of Things to Come Book

ISBN: 068817695X

ISBN13: 9780688176952

The Shape of Things to Come

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Book Overview

Isabelle, a woman in her thirties without any of the trappings of a grown-up life, has just been fired from her job at a San Francisco phone company. Returning to the midwestern suburb of her... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

"all the lonely people, where do they come from?"

While reading Maud Casey's provocative, maddening and satiric debut novel, "The Shape of Things to Come," readers may well find themselves realizing that the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby is reborn in literature. Thirty-ish Isabelle, whose shambles of a life catapults her back to her frighteningly lifeless hometown, symbolizes the terrible hollowness and futility of modern suburban life. Everythng Casey describes about Standardsville, Illinois, is designed to both mock and shock. Casey knows how to blend morbid humor and genuine pathos; the very quality of Isabelle's existence is irritatingly pathetic. Simultaneously, the protagonist repels and attracts as she struggles to find some kind of meaning to a life that is desperately hollow.Even Isabelle's employment is pretense; she acts as a mystery shopper whose duty is to discover hidden facts about movie theatres or trendy apartment complexes. Donning disguises under the breathless encouragement of her temp-job supervisor, Isabelle has no more clue as to her ultimate destination as she does the personalities she half-heartedly adopts in her undercover "work." Presumably, work in America should be fulfilling, purposeful and productive. In Standardsville, Isabelle's employment is sterile, duplicitous and pointless. It is small wonder that she wanders through the novel as if stunned.Her attempts at relationships fare no better. Isabelle's mother Adeline is a modern-day dating machine. Methodically working her way through every single man in the city, Adeline's existential hunger is never satisfied by male companionship. So desperate is she for companionship that Adeline never stops to consider what human connection or intimacy is. Rare mother-daughter conversations invariably return to the central theme of their lives: an inexorable shabby loneliness. The two men in Isabelle's life are a ying-yang of frustration, isolation and failure. A renewed relationship with her former boyfriend, Duncan, bounces between attraction, rejection and misperception. A lifelong sufferer of Standardsville, Duncan fights against his attraction to Isabelle, ultimately succumbing to his need to reignite the miniscule passion which existed between the two some twenty years previous. Isabelle's bizarre neighbor, Raymond, deserves his own chapter in a college textbook on abnormal psychology. His involvement with both Isabelle and Adeline provide insight into the quiet, disintegrative aspects of suburban living.Despite its satiric insights and vivid characterizations, Maud Casey's "The Shape of Things to Come" never gains traction. It is as if the author could not make up her own mind as to the ultimate objective of her own work. Biting criticism of suburbia cannot permit much sympathy for a protagonist whose adult life reeks of aimlessness. Yet Casey wants the reader to feel for and with Isabelle. Any author who creates Mexican restaurants with names such as "En Queso Emergency" should not dabble in maudlin s

Things to come are very promising

As a resident of a town much like Standardville, Illinois, I began Maud Casey's book with a mixture of interest and apprehension. Would this novel be the product of an uninformed writer, imagining what the Midwest was like? Or would it capture critical, but sympathetic, impressions of living in a part of the country that is far from glamorous yet fully human? I'm happy to say that I found the latter. The Shape of Things to Come is an often humorous, always thoughtful, coming-of-age (and reflective of coming-of-age) novel about a woman who, despite her efforts to the contrary, finds that she can get beyond destructive self-absorption and might even become a person with whom she can be content.Casey's prose is a delight, and the book is easy to read in the very best sense of that quality. She doesn't strive to impress you with the profundity and depth of every sentence, nor seem to want you to struggle, as if you have to earn the right to finish the book. Yet her command of language and dialogue is clear, and she does want you to care about every character, no matter how quirky. I did.I had the good fortune to hear a reading by Casey when she came to a nearby bookstore. Her affect and unassuming charm were as impressive as her literary talent. I look forward to her next novel, whatever it may be.

Things to Come Are Likely to Be Very Good

As a resident of a town very similar to Standardsville, Illinois, I began Maud Casey's "The Shape of Things to Come"--set in a town with that fictional but evocative name--with both interest and trepidation. Would I find myself the object of an East Coast writer's caustic, but ignorant, jokes about the Midwest? Or would I find that someone had captured my critical but still sympathetic observations about myself and my surroundings much more articulately than I could manage? I'm happy to say that I found the latter--a gently humorous, sometimes sad, and often wise account of coming-of-age, and coming to terms with coming-of-age, in a part of America that is far from glamorous.Maud Casey's writing is a joy to encounter. For a serious reader, the book is "easy" in the best sense of that word; you can move through the novel quickly without struggling to understand--or feel that Casey wants to impress you with--every sentence. But you can still feel satisfied that she's a writer who has considered her words carefully, thought deeply about others (as reflected in the characters she's created) and is smart and clever throughout. And she is as kind as she is shrewd, never taking anyone for granted nor giving anyone less or more than they are due.The narrative is absorbing, although it will be up to each reader to decide whether the ending is happy or sad. Casey's intelligence and ability to capture the complexity of life--yes, even in Standarsville or its ilk--bodes well for the rest of her career and for anyone who looks forward, as do I, to her next book.

Good first Novel!

I really enjoyed the book. I thought the main characters antics were funny especially when she goes out on her mystery shopping assignments. The supporting characters were interesting. Twist to the ending. Very good first novel, with a trace of Elizabeth Berg style of writing. I hope she writes another book soon!
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