The Miss America Family

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Simon and Schuster, Apr 9, 2002 - Fiction - 288 pages
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The Miss America Family
In this stunning follow-up to the acclaimed Girl Talk, a fading beauty-pageant veteran and her sixteen-year-old son team up as the delightfully nimble co-chroniclers of one family's soulful, mordantly funny remembrance of things past. With her irreverent evocation of suburban dissolution, Julianna Baggott gives us a fictional world whose emotional complexity and comedic dysfunction closely resemble our own.
It's 1987 in Greenville, Delaware. Ezra Stocker is the son of an insomniac ex-Miss New Jersey named Pixie and a gay, absentee father; the stepson of an ex-quarterback dentist with a taste for turtle-patterned golf pants; and the grandson of a superstitious, stroke-addled woman with a passion for birds and some truly odd notions about fish and the family ancestry. He has created for himself a specific goal this summer vacation: to make a list of "Rules to Live By," his own set of guidelines to take him through life. A boy whose chief distinguishing traits include webbed toes and a knack for standardized aptitude tests, Ezra has no reason to expect that by the end of this particular summer, due largely to a doomed romance with a wealthy podiatrist's daughter and a fateful episode with a gun, every one of those rules will be tossed out the window.
It's 1987 in Greenville, Delaware, but Pixie Stocker is consumed by the past. When she was Ezra's age, she too sought the secret rules and how-to's for negotiating life and attaining her dream of the all-American family. Pixie had found her answers in the comfortingly black-and-white strictures of Emily Post -- and later in the rigid absolutes of the beauty pageant circuit. Such certainties have long since vanished, replaced by the relentless haunting of her memory, and the ceaseless reverberations of a long-ago act of brutal violation. When Ezra's grandmother, disoriented from her stroke, reveals to her daughter an explosive and longburied family secret, she spurs Pixie toward a series of bizarre and dangerous choices in an endeavor to reclaim her tragic past and, for better or worse, start anew.
In the pages of The Miss America Family Julianna Baggott creates as unique a voice -- and as idiosyncratic a sensibility -- as any novelist has managed in years, extending her range and craft with dazzling, high-wire mixtures of absurdity and pathos, hilarity and darkness.
 

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THE MISS AMERICA FAMILY

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Three generations of a dysfunctional family come full circle to discover that the definition of the perfect American family allows for a lot of latitude.Baggott (Girl Talk, 2001) sets her second novel ... Read full review

The Miss America family: a novel

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This second novel (after Girl Talk) establishes Baggott's remarkable talent for creating characters who resonate with readers. Alternating between the perspectives of 16-year-old Ezra, who is skinny ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
28
Section 3
47
Section 4
61
Section 5
71
Section 6
79
Section 7
86
Section 8
103
Section 14
162
Section 15
173
Section 16
177
Section 17
196
Section 18
210
Section 19
217
Section 20
224
Section 21
229

Section 9
110
Section 10
120
Section 11
126
Section 12
141
Section 13
147
Section 22
242
Section 23
249
Section 24
266
Section 25
269
Copyright

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About the author (2002)

Julianna Baggott's work has appeared in such publications as The Southern Review, Ms. magazine, Poetry, Best American Poetry 2000, and read on NPR's Talk of the Nation. The nationally bestselling author of The Miss America Family and Girl Talk, as well a book of poems entitled This Country of Mothers, she teaches at Florida State University and lives in Tallahassee with her husband and three children. Visit her website at www.juliannabaggott.com.

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