Book - 2015
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"Stillwater College in Virginia, 1966. Freshman Peggy, an ingenue with literary pretensions, falls under the spell of Lee, a blue-blooded poet and professor, and they begin an ill-advised affair that results in an unplanned pregnancy and marriage. The two are mismatched from the start -- she's a lesbian, he's gay -- but it takes a decade of emotional erosion before Peggy runs off with their three-year-old daughter, leaving their nine-year-old son behind. Worried that Lee will have her committed for her erratic behavior, Peggy goes underground, adopting an African American persona for her and her daughter. They squat in a house in an African-American settlement, eventually moving to a housing project where no one questions their true racial identities. As Peggy and Lee's children grow up, they must contend with diverse emotional issues: Byrdie deals with his father's compulsive honesty; while Karen struggles with her mother's lies -- she knows neither her real age, nor that she is "white," nor that she has any other family. Years later, a minority scholarship lands Karen at the University of Virginia, where Byrdie is in his senior year. Eventually the long lost siblings will meet, setting off a series of misunderstandings and culminating in a comedic finale worthy of Shakespeare"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2015]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2015
ISBN: 9780062364777
Branch Call Number: FIC ZINK N


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Apr 14, 2019

Oh how I wish I were Nell Zink's editor. I would tell her to keep her stories small, to resist the urge to span years but rather, keep me confined in a room with these characters, perhaps for an eternity. As with her debut work, Wallcreeper, the author starts out with a bang. I am involved and interested and want to go deep with these people, to understand their everyday. And then. And then she loses me a bit as she can't escape her impulses to stop doing what she does at the beginning of her books. I'm not her editor so all I will say is 1) I think I enjoyed Wallcreeper a bit more and 2) both books presented problems for me, the reader, in terms of holding my interest beyond their first third. Still, an interesting author to watch and hopefully she will one day get an editor who sees her promise as I do.

Jul 08, 2018

New York Times referral Mar 2018: Interesting and absorbing

Jul 29, 2016

Was supposed to be tongue in cheek, but I evidently did not have the same cheek.

Feb 06, 2016

The book tells the story of youth from multiple generations, and illustrates how the impulsive choices of young people can have dire and lifelong impact. Nell Zink is very gifted at weaving many narrative threads together and creating diverse, vibrant and wholly believable characters and a sense of how the South changed in the late 20th century. At first I was immediately drawn in by Peggy’s story, but as the book went on I found the judgmental tone of the narrator (sometimes directly telling the reader how to feel) to severely impede my enjoyment. The tone of the book changes and becomes more broadly satirical in the last third or so. In fact it began to remind me of two books, Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, that both also had multiple “culture clash” storylines and satirized contemporary life. Both “Mislaid” and “White Teeth” have tidy happy-ish endings that were somewhat unconvincing. In “Mislaid” so many characters have suffered for years due to one another’s bad decisions,that the final group-wide reconciliation seemed unrealistic.

Oct 07, 2015

A good satire on education, college admissions, gays and lesbians, racism, poverty, drugs, living in rural Virginia, guilt and innocence, and rich white people getting away with anything. Easy fun read in the early part of the novel, then if fizzles away. Still a worthy effort of an upcoming young writer.


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Marlowe Jul 02, 2016

This was fantastic. Much in the same vein as Jonathan Franzen and Don Delillo, but lighter and sharper. Zink offers up the most dysfunctional family, with absurd choices and plenty of social commentary. Smart and funny, a highly recommended read!

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