Larry Weller is a regular guy, or so Carol Shields has him think. When we first meet him in 1977 Winnipeg at age 26, he's pondering the pluses of Harris tweed, still living at home, and realizing he's in love with his girlfriend, Dorrie, a flinty car saleswoman. Larry is proud of his job at Flowerfolks, even though he fell into floral design by accident, and if his relationship with his parents isn't perfect, it's not too bad, either. (Stu and Flo Weller may have less page-time in Larry's Party
, but they are hugely memorable. He is a master upholsterer, happiest when working; she is a woman ruined by nervous guilt, having inadvertently killed off her mother-in-law with some improperly preserved green beans.)
Carol Shields has said that she had "always been struck by the fact that in most novels people aren't working." Though her hero climbs the floral managerial trellis for 17 years and finds more rhapsody in work than marriage, Larry and Dorrie's honeymoon in England points him toward what will be his true vocation--mazes. These living constructs turn him into a thinker, a man of imagination, and the author's descriptions are quietly spectacular as well as effortlessly sweet. Larry wonders at their "teasing elegance and circularity ... a snail, a scribble, a doodle on the earth's skin with no other directed purpose but to wind its sinuous way around itself." Just as Larry changes with the times--each elliptical chapter ages him by one or two years--so does his art. In 1990, he designs a maze in which you can't really lose yourself. In 1997, the McCord Maze "is intended to mirror the descent into unconscious sleep, followed by a slow awakening." Larry, too, has a slow awakening, taking several false turns before reaching midlife. As the novel closes, with a bravura dinner party scene, he may finally be at ease in the world. But his creator knows that he is only halfway there, and still has to negotiate his way from the center of the maze to its exit.
--This text refers to the
From Library Journal
Shields (winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Stone Diaries, LJ 5/15/96) narrated the abridged version of her novel (Audio Reviews, LJ 11/1/97), while here another woman reads Harry Weller's uneventful life. Alyssa Bresnahan gives a perceptive characterization of this 20th-century Everyman. Although the story describes Harry's everyday life in intimate detail, even to the number of fillings in his teeth and shoes in his closet, it is his work that is the heart of the book. Harry designs mazes for gardens; they are his passion as well as his profession. They are, in his words, "refuges from confusion, an orderly path for the persevering." Even Harry's life is consistent. As if in a maze, he follows sharp turns and false trails until he emerges triumphant in the center. It is then, in 1997, that Harry Weller?age 47?gives a party to celebrate his birthday, brilliantly described by Shields in a manner worthy of Virginia Woolf. A memorable experience. Recommended.?Jo Carr, Sarasota, FL
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.