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Any Place I Hang My Hat: A Novel Paperback – Apr 18 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1 edition (April 18 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743272307
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743272308
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,563,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

A political reporter in her late 20s goes in search of the mother who abandoned her when she was a baby in this jaunty if rather jerky 10th novel by Isaacs (Long Time No See; Red, White, and Blue; etc.). Amy Lincoln was brought up in the projects by her Grandma Lil, a leg waxer and devoted Falcon Crest viewer; her amiable father, Chicky, spent most of Amy's childhood in prison on a series of minor theft raps. A boarding school scholarship rescues Amy from lower-class oblivion; she goes on to Harvard and Columbia, then lands a job at In Depth, a highbrow weekly. Upbeat and self-deprecating, Amy spends little time bemoaning her past, but an encounter with college student Freddy Carrasco, who claims he's the illegitimate son of a Democratic presidential candidate, gets Amy wondering where her own mother might be. While advising Freddy how to approach his father, she uses her reporting skills to track down her elusive mother. The political subplot is anticlimactic—Amy doesn't even get a scoop—and Amy's eventual reunion with her mother, revealed to be a chilly suburban housewife, is credibly if rather disappointingly subdued. The parade of lavishly and loopishly described secondary characters and gossipy New York scene-setting give the novel its zing; Amy's rocky relationship with her documentary filmmaker boyfriend provides a jolt of romantic excitement and a happy ending.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Amy Lincoln has a knack for fitting in wherever she finds herself, whether it's attending an Ivy League college, visiting inmates in the state pen, or chumming around with the elite of the eastern seaboard. Problem is, all this fitting in means Amy doesn't really belong anywhere. A journalist with the prestigious news journal In Depth, Amy is assigned to cover the campaign of Senator Thomas Bowles, who is vying to be the Democratic Party's nominee in the 2004 presidential election. During one of the typically swank fund-raising events, a Latino college kid walks in, claiming to be Bowles' son. After the security detail whisks him away, Amy's interest is piqued, even though her magazine doesn't do tabloid-style scandal. But Amy's own checkered past--which includes abandonment by her mother when she was only a baby, visitations to her father in prison, and being raised by her shoplifting grandmother--fuels her desire to help this young man reunite with his birth family. Yes, this all smells quite strongly of self-discovery, but while Isaacs' plots often drift precariously close to cliche, she usually rights the ship with her keen sense of humor and character. So it is here as Amy comes to terms with the past but does it with charm and self-deprecating wit. Women's fiction with a tangy, contemporary bite. Mary Frances Wilkens
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa190fed0) out of 5 stars 55 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa15d4db0) out of 5 stars It's hard to believe that over 25 years have passed.... Oct. 19 2004
By L. Quido - Published on
Format: Hardcover
.....since author Susan Isaacs penned her "Compromising Positions" yarn about a middle-aged suburban housewife. In THAT book, which may seem ordinary today, Isaacs broke

a lot of rules. She wrote about the suburban mom vs. working woman in a manner that poked fun at both. She let her heroine have an adulterous fling, and, somehow, it seemed

all right in a day and age when the sexual revolution was just something hippies were involved in. Over the years, in nine novels (ten, now!) Isaacs has given me much pleasure and literally has me stop and say more than once throughout each book-"that's happened to me...". My personal favorite of Isaac's novels is "After All These Years", but, then, I never met an Isaacs novel I didn't love.

I credit Susan Isaacs with starting the "chick lit" era, and she is a master. Her novels don't just make light of women facing issues, they generally are themed for a woman who is just discovering a whole lot about herself that she never knew. "Any Place I Hang My Hat" is no exception, although the heroine, Amy Lincoln (a 30-something Jewish-Italian New Yorker from the slums, with a missing mother who walked off and left her and a father ("Chicky") who has lived a life incarcerated, on and off)doesn't realize right away that she's destined to try to find her true self.

Naturally, Amy's used her wits and her knack for hard work and fitting in to go first to an exclusive boarding school, all expenses paid, then on to Harvard and Columbia to study journalism. She's a political writer for "In Depth" - a quality magazine with an educated following, and she's been involved for more than two years with a documentary

filmmaker, John Orenstein. She's got a longer relationship, for a decade and a half, with rich, exotic Tatty, her best

friend. The two met in boarding school when Tatty insulted her and Amy retaliated by punching her in the mouth. Tatty naturally does not have to work for a living, but chose a career in gourmet occasion cake making, after her two marriages failed. Isaacs normally draws me in with a more middle-aged heroine, but in the brilliant little journey that Amy makes to find herself in the novel, we quickly learn that she has an old soul.

Involved in the early part of the Democratic run for a presidential candidate, with a clever mix of real and imagined candidates, Amy's struck by the parallel between a young Hispanic man who crashes a fund-raiser, claiming the blueblooded Senator who is running for office is his father. Amy's own life has been lived trying not to speculate on why and how her mother, Phyllis, left her in the care of crazy Grandma Lil and jailbird Chicky. Phyllis never once looked back, and Amy has to decide - does she want to find Phyllis and find the answers to all those questions or is it just safer to leave the genie in the bottle?

Interspersed with the quest for her identity are the often humorous anecdotes of Amy's struggle with editorial control at the magazine, and her on and off again romance

with John. Warning: there is a broken heart that really leaves you feeling bereft in this novel.

In the concluding chapters, I will admit to tears, because Isaacs truly engaged me in her character, and never went over-the-top for her laughs. Indeed, Isaacs practices wit more than humor, romance more than sexual heat, and contemporary writing more than groundbreaking plotting. Reviewing the above, you may yawn and think it's just another plot that's been done before, but you haven't counted on Isaacs' style and way with a phrase or a concept. Here she has Amy assess her life:

"I could fit in anywhere: With all the kids on the bus going upstate to visit their fathers in prison. With all the Ivey girls and the guys they hung with. In a government seminar at Harvard. Drinking with the Democratic powers-that-be in Chicago. Except when you could theoretically live a thousand different lives, how do you pick the one where you belong?"

Join Isaacs and Amy for a journey of discovery, and enjoy the wit, charm, warmth, and ultimately and unfortunately, the end of a smart new novel. Isaacs only averages

one novel every 2.5 years. That's way too few with too much space between them, for my taste. Thus, I pay full price whenever I see she's got a new one on the shelves....believe me, "Any Place I Hang My Hat", was worth every penny!

Enjoy it!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa15d4d14) out of 5 stars An impressive and intelligent heroine Feb. 9 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This was a very compelling and intelligent read that I would recommend to anyone who would enjoy an intelligent tale of a woman's personal growth. (I received this book as a Christmas present, and I am so grateful that someone finally understood my tastes in reading material!)

Amy's story is memorable -- she was abandoned by her mother as an infant, and raised by her delusioned, neglectful paternal grandmother, and by her father, when he was not in jail. She sees school and education as an escape, and when she has the chance, she accepts a scholarship at an elite boarding school. From there, she attends Harvard and Columbia school of journalism, and gets a job as a writer for a serious news magazine. Her travels through the different social levels of urban New York, from the projects to prisons to political circles to elite boarding schools, result in really striking and thought provoking commentary. (I didn't agree with every thing that Amy or the other characters said, and, happily, it didn't appear that Issacs was offering a lecture.) At the same time, the story is accessibly comtemporary, making frequent reference to recent world events and popular culture in a way that grounds the story in a particular time and place and gives the impression that Amy is not so devoted to politics and CSPAN that she has never watched reality TV.

Susan Issac creates a intelligent, self-sufficient, yet vulnerable character and neither Issacs not her character seems inclined to understimate the intelligence of the reader. Amy is charming, smart (reading four or five newspapers a day with a keen interest in politics and current events) and interested in what is going on in the world around her. In order to grasp and appreciate some of Amy's wit and social criticism, the reader is expected to be a smart, well-aware person as well. Amy Lincoln is a truly memorable literary character, incredibly thoughtful, observant, honest, witty, and vulnerable.

One of my favorite scenes is one where Amy falls in her apartment (she later learns that she had broken three ribs) and she is unable to get up off the floor. She is in pain, and worried that she had really hurt herself. She wants to call someone and ask for help, but is afraid that no one would be interested enough to come and help her. She does call an aquaintance, lying on her back on the floor, but she is unable to bring herself to tell him what has happened to her. When she can't keep him on the phone any longer, she makes her way to her bedroom, and in the morning takes herself to an emergency room. The quiet, resigned way in which she deals with her aloneness is heartbreaking and impressive at the same time. Though scared, Amy never seems depressed. I hope that this book gets the attention it deserves.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9effdd2c) out of 5 stars More than a "women's" book Dec 17 2004
By Dr. Cathy Goodwin - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Since she burst onto the mystery scene with Compromising Positions, Susan Isaacs has created plots featuring strong heroines who find page-turning conflict in the most mundane worlds.

Here she steps away from the suburbs into slightly edgier territory. Amy Lincoln, a mature 29-year-old political writer, has risen from a beyond-dysfunctional home in the projects. Following a scholarship to a select prep school, she fought her way into Harvard and then Columbia Journalism School.

And now she's feeling stranded. Her too-good-to-be-true boyfriend doesn't seem to be moving to marriage. Her best friend is between marriages. Her father, released from prison for the third time, won't introduce her to his new girlfriend; after all, he's been passing for 36.

It's not clear what pushes Amy to start asking questions about her past after all this time. Maybe she is inspired by a young man who crashes a senator's reception, claiming to be a long lost son. For some reason, she gets her father to talk about her long-lost mother, then uses her reportorial skills to track down the missing family.

As Amy explores her roots, we're treated to a detailed description of just about everyone she meets -- even people who just walk onstage for a few pages. These detours add color to the novel and I for one didn't mind slowing down.

The climactic scene pulls the book together, striking just the right note. We realize how cruelly Amy's mother set events in motion that harmed everyone she knew: her own parents, Amy's father and ultimately Amy herself. True, Amy went to good schools, but there's a hint of scar tissue when she deals with past and present relationships.

Sometimes Amy seems extremely mature for a 29-year-old; after all, the author's quite a bit older. She's been through a lot, though, so her character is plausible. Her romantic life is a little more far-fetched, and the ending seems to doom the book to the "women/romance" category.

Overall, though, I enjoyed this book. I get tired of whiny, helpless heroines who can't seem to take charge of their lives, so I found myself liking Amy's strength and her willingness to accept the consequences of her own actions.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9effd8ac) out of 5 stars Better and better and better . . . Nov. 1 2004
By Michael K. Smith - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Issacs's novels aren't mere replays of one another. The protagonist of each is a woman, but they're not "women's novels" -- or not merely that, anyway. This one isn't a mystery, as some of her best have been, but it's certainly suspenseful. Thirty-year-old Amy Lincoln ("no relation") is a more-than-competent New York political analyst and journalist at IN DEPTH, a magazine so serious it doesn't run pictures at all. Despite her degrees from Harvard and Columbia School of Journalism, she grew up in the projects, the daughter of a mostly likeable but only semi-successful small-time criminal and a mother who disappeared when she was a few months old, dumping her in the reluctant lap of her Grandma Lil, a part-time leg-waxer. Her background left her with a rather confrontational style and very chary of commitment in relationships, even though for two years she's been with the pretty much terrific John Orenstein, a documentary film maker who pushes all her passion buttons but with whom she is convinced she ought to break up. But all that is just the background to this multilayered story. While covering a private money-raiser by a presidential candidate, she witnesses a young, personable gate-crasher's claim to be the senator's illegitimate son. As she gets involved, against her better ethical judgment, with his quest for acceptance, she comes to the realization that she must also uncover the truth about her own mother and the theft of a diamond ring that sent her father to jail for the first time. She's an expert researcher and (speaking as someone in a similar line of work) I found the process fascinating. But Amy's search is only the means to discovering who she is, whether she's really her mother's daughter in terms of bent psychology, and what to do about John. The story is set, rather pointedly, against the backdrop of the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq, but I'm not sure I see the relevance. And there are also frequent flashback references to the events of September 11, as is probably inevitable for any future novel set in present-day New York City, but at least they play some part in the characters' personal lives. This certainly isn't a "funny" book, but Isaacs's dry wit and droll capsule descriptions add a leavening of humor that keeps things on an even keel. And her spot-on depictions of the supporting characters are marvelous. Every novel this author writes is better than the one before.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9effd828) out of 5 stars An absorbing and enjoyable read Oct. 15 2004
By Bookreporter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Amy Lincoln, associate editor at the serious news weekly In Depth, is covering Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Bowles. The senator begins his campaign by announcing, "Our penile system is in atrocious shape!" Amy's life is in even worse condition. Phyllis, her mother, ran out when Amy was a baby, while her father went to prison. Shoplifting Grandma Lil, who looked like a member of the Potato Head family and wanted only to be upper class, raised her. Amy's poverty granted her a scholarship in a fancy boarding school --- and the chance to better herself while exiting her tumultuous family life.

Amy attends a party for Senator Bowles when a young man appears and claims to be the senator's son. Intrigued, Amy meets the boy, Freddy, to hear his story. When Freddy asks how a parent can just walk away from a child, Amy decides to call her father and search out the truth about her mother. The underlying mystery of her life can no longer be ignored, especially as she now wishes to have a family of her own. Unfortunately, as her desire for a baby peaks, her once-promising relationship declines. But Amy wonders if that's all for the best since she can't help harboring fears that she would follow her mother's pattern and become a defective, abandoning parent.

At first, Amy's search for her mother parallels her investigation of Senator Bowles's past. Then her own personal search takes off on its own, leading Amy to meet with some interesting characters, and skulk about like a detective. The more she discovers about her parent, the more mysteries unfurl before her. For example, if Phyllis came from a wealthy background, why did her upwardly aspiring mother-in-law detest her? Why hasn't Phyllis made any attempt to track Amy down?

As Amy inquires into her mother's life, and her own, her work provides a sometimes-interfering backdrop (leading Amy to muse that movie heroines don't seem to spend much time at employment). She also finds herself longing for her ex-boyfriend with passion, even as she half-heartedly searches for a likely successor. However, her yearning for John is hopeless; he has made it plain that the relationship is over. Is it a matter of her wanting only what she knows she can't have?

Amy's voice, and the funny little zingers throughout her story, along with the fascinating puzzle of Phyllis, hooked me. Add to that mix Amy's wealthy and quirky best friend, her endless craving for her nice guy ex-boyfriend, her bizarre upbringing, and a peek into the workings of a newsmagazine. Despite my few initial misgivings regarding much back-story and many subplots (at first I thought they tended to slow the plot; I soon grew to love them) I found ANY PLACE I HANG MY HAT to be an absorbing, enjoyable read.

--- Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (