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Angels Go Naked A Novel [Hardcover]

Cornelia Nixon
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 16 2000
"Wise, magical [stories], galvanized by a kind of sensual thought and an alertness to the ways we love and fail and insist on doing it again and again until we get lucky, until we get it right."
-Frederick Busch

Angels Go Naked is the vexed love story of Webster, a microbiologist at Berkeley, Margy, a violinist for the Chicago Symphony, and the collision course they call their life together. Against all probability, they meet, fall in love, and marry. Margy begins to think about having a child, and it is here that Cornelia Nixon most brilliantly captures the troubled but deeply symbiotic union of a wife who says she desperately wants children and a husband who refuses to become a father. The arc of this couple's unhappiness is traced in a funny, sad, and compassionate series of beautifully imagined scenes. As in her celebrated novel Now You See It, Nixon's gifts are apparent on every page.

Praise for Now You See It:
Cornelia Nixon is an award-winning writer who "combines Alice Munro's sympathetic understanding of character with Ann Beattie's radar-sharp eye for the dislocations of contemporary culture."
-New York Times

Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Although subtitled "a novel," Nixon's (Now You See It) delicately constructed new book is really a collection of 11 related short stories. Skillfully interwoven, they tell of violinist Margy Rose, from her adolescence in Boston through her stormy relationship with marine biologist and perpetual student Webster Unutshimakitshigamink, a name he adapted from the Algonquin because it means "he lives beside the sea." In Boston, Chicago and California's Bolinas Bay, these highly educated young people and their friends inhabit a milieu reminiscent of that in the novels of the late Laurie Colwin and of Catherine Schine, though Nixon's world is darker, lonelier. Margy, who has always been haunted by nightmares--including one about an abortion she had in college--begins to dream obsessively about having a child. Meanwhile, Webster, who is generally repulsed by people despite having a few friends, is obsessed with the degradation of the environment. Before meeting Margy, he swore off women; afterward, he strives for a life that, like his wedding, is without family or guests; briefly, it is without Margy, who leaves him when he won't give her the baby she desires. Nixon's clear and vivid prose is somewhat mocking, from her first story (where she pokes fun at the infatuation of Margy and her high-school friends for Freud and poetry) to her last (with its adroit one-sentence put-down of a callous medical specialist); like the breeze that Webster smells coming from Lake Michigan, the narrative has "a certain poisoned sweetness." Despite the author's ironic distance, however, Webster and Margy emerge as vivid characters who command affection and compassion; by the novel's conclusion, one can only hope they will find their way through the second half of their lives more joyfully than they traversed the first. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Nixon, who has received the O. Henry Award and the Pushcart Prize, creates a "novel in stories" that cannot be put down. The stories are interwoven like a fine violin concerto, reminiscent of one that main character Margy performs at one of her concerts. We follow her from high school through college, an unwanted pregnancy, and on to being a violinist for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Her whole life seems disconnected until she meets Webster, a microbiologist at Berkeley, who seems to give Margy a purpose to her career and life. The novel resembles the perfect love story until the reader starts to see the failings of the characters as well as their perseverance in the hope that they'll get lucky and perhaps get it right. As the novel states, "Webster had already shoved the big door wide, onto the bright and empty corridor, trying to find his way." Nixon's writing gifts are apparent in every scene of the novel. A worthwhile purchase for most public libraries.
-Vicki Cecil, Hartford City P.L., IN
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
One-quarter of her waking life had gone to practicing the violin, but when her teacher entered her in a national audition, she was surprised to make it to the finals and didn't bother checking the result. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Fiction about the Inner Life May 2 2000
By A Customer
Cornelia Nixon's fine second novel, ANGELS GO NAKED, is largely about the turbulent inner world of the psyche. Not that we don't have a fine and very tangible idea of a host of characters--well beyond the principals, Cathy the violinist in the Chicago Symphony and Webster the marine biologist working on two doctorates--and of some marvellously described places such as Bolinas, California, Chicago, New York and, briefly, Venice, Italy, but this rousing work keys on the internal life of people and the conflicts it creates with their actual existence in the world of space and time. Thus ANGELS GO NAKED is the finest--and most ancient--kind of drama, written with heart-breaking clarity and wit. Bravo! Bravissima!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Eros and angst Feb. 18 2001
This elegant collection of prize-winning short stories makes a nearly seamless novel. The extraordinary main characters are Margy, a violinist with the CSO, and Webster, adult child of psychiatrists who wants to return to his nebulous Native American roots. Nixon is an exquisite writer who writes what she knows and seems to know a lot of things especially music and science. She is equally adept at portraying the sights, smells and sounds of love but always with a delicate touch. This sensuous reading experience should also appeal to those who are not particularly interested in reading relationship type novels because of the fine descriptive, researched and just plain gifted writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A funny, beautiful, moving book July 1 2000
By A Customer
From the first page of Angels Go Naked, I was engrossed. The format of the novel -- a series of connected stories -- is beautifully effective. By exploring a series of moments, Nixon allows to know her characters in an internal and compelling way. They are passionate, funny, and very real people. Nixon truly understands the complexity of love.
Nixon's use of language is spare but illuminating. This is one of the best books I've read this year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Smart and glamorous Oct. 17 2000
By A Customer
Angels Go Naked does everything right in showing us how things can go wrong. The price of being human is knowing not only that we will die but that we will visit disaster on ourselves and those we love. The consolation for being human is we apprehend the beauty and glamor of the world, the exquisite little wrinkles of shocking intelligence. Both that price and those consolations are evident in the pages of this wonderful novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars moving and beautiful Aug. 24 2000
Like much of life itself the power I felt in this reading was in what was not said, in the spaces in between. Melodic and poetic view of humans as complex beings in relationships. It's crept back into my consciousness often after I finished it a couple of months ago.
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