At Weddings and Wakes

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Macmillan, 1992 - Fiction - 213 pages
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Set in the Sixties, McDermott's third novel tells the story of an extended Irish-American family observed primarily through the eyes of the children, a son and two daughters. Time circles backwards and forwards around a variety of family rituals: holiday meals, vacations at the shore, the wedding of a favorite aunt. The poignant middle-aged romance that develops between the aunt, a former nun, and her suitor, a shy mailman, exacerbates already pronounced family tensions. As they listen to oft-repeated stories about poverty, disease, and early deaths, the children are solemn witnesses to the Irish immigrant experience in America. By turns wry and sad, this is McDermott's finest novel to date. Highly recommended.

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About the author (1992)

Alice McDermott was born in Brooklyn, New York on June 27, 1953. She received a B.A. from the State University of New York at Oswego in 1975 and an M.A. from the University of New Hampshire in 1978. After graduating college, she got a job reading unsolicited manuscripts for Redbook magazine and did some freelance reading for Esquire. She has taught writing at American University, the University of New Hampshire, and the University of California at San Diego. Currently, she is the Writing Seminars Professor of the Johns Hopkins University Writing Department. Her short stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications including Ms., Redbook, Mademoiselle, The New Yorker, Seventeen, the New York Times and the Washington Post. She has written several novels including A Bigamist's Daughter, At Weddings and Wakes, Child of My Heart, After This, and Someone. That Night was made into a film starring C. Thomas Howell and Juliette Lewis in 1992. She has won several awards including the National Book Award for fiction in 1998 for Charming Billy, a Whiting Writers Award, and the 2008 Corrington Award for Literature.

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