While most of the action unfolds along the East Coast -- in Maryland, Maine, Boston, Philadelphia, New York -- several of the women travel to Arizona, California, and Jamaica. Often the light is too bright in these glittery places and they wonder why they have come. Many seem to be searching for a sense of home, which one girl describes as a place that is "complete and full of longing all at once."
Yet this desire for a personal territory, a point of constancy, is not necessarily rewarded: in this book, separations lead to divorce, sisters continue to misread each other, cancers kill. Still, the women refuse to turn their gaze away from what the world has thrown in their path. Often as not, they pick it up, wonder at it, test its relevance, and continue on, not happier perhaps, but certainly more knowing.
With humor and insight, Charlotte Bacon illuminates the unexpected ambiguities of women's lives. A Private State marks the arrival of an extremely talented writer
Charlotte Bacon teaches at Miss Porter's School. Her story "Live Free or Die," featured in this collection, won the Pirate's Alley/Faulkner Society Award for Best Short Story of 1996.
Simple might be considered an Everyman for black Americans. Hughes himself wrote: "...these tales are about a great many people--although they are stories about no specific persons as such. But it is impossible to live in Harlem and not know at least a hundred Simples, fifty Joyces, twenty-five Zaritas, and several Cousin Minnies--or reasonable facsimiles thereof."
As Arnold Rampersad has written, Simple is "one of the most memorable and winning characters in the annals of American literature, justly regarded as one of Hughes's most inspired creations."
In a debut novel that is a triumph of wit and feeling, Charlotte Bacon explores the transitions that sixty years visit upon the members of an unforgettable family--a Saskatchewan woman and her Scottish husband; their plucky daughter, who moves to Toronto; and her remarkable daughter, who lives in France with her Turkish-English husband. Lost Geography takes the complexity of migration as its central subject: Why do landscape, work, and family lock some people in place and release others? In settings both rural and urban, these stalwart, tragically dispersed yet resilient people respond not only to new environments and experiences but to the eruption of sudden loss and change.
As the settings and characters shift in this wise, resonant book, readers are invited to see how habits of survival translate from one generation to another. How are we like our forebears? How does circumstance make us alter what our heritage has told us is important? With unfailing subtlety and elegance, Lost Geography teaches us, in a luminous sequence of intense personal dramas, that what keeps us alive isn't so much our ability to understand the details of our past as having the luck and courage to survive the assaults of both the present and history.
Split Estate opens with devastating scenes of a family at a horrific juncture: the wife of Arthur King and mother of his two teenage children, Celia and Cam, has recently committed suicide, jumping out the window of their New York apartment.
Charlotte Bacon's luminous new novel tracks the King family as it struggles to survive in the months that follow. Arthur, an attractive lawyer who has always been edgy about city dwelling, decides they must move back to his home state of Wyoming for the summer, where his mother, Lucy, welcomes her orphaned grandchildren and her wounded son to her much loved but diminished ranch. From the perspective of each protagonist in turn, we watch shy Celia and handsome Cam, distraught Arthur and brave Lucy face themselves and their future in a Wyoming that is beautiful and consoling, yet beset by new threats of destruction.
A split estate is a form of real property in which the mineral rights have been split off from the other land uses to which the owner is entitled. This has transformed the landscape the Kings love and jeopardized Lucy's independence. In truth, the Kings' very lives have become split estates—for Celia, on the brink of adolescence; for Cam, approaching independent adulthood; for Arthur, divided between the West and New York. Split Estate is a heartrending depiction of an American family sturggling to deal with irrevocable damage to their lives and surroundings.
The Things They Carried won France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.