After the Parade: A Novel

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The debut novel from award-winning author Lori Ostlund—“smart, resonant, and imbued with beauty” (Publishers Weekly) that “provides considerable pleasure and emotional power” (The New York Times Book Review)—about a man who leaves his longtime partner in New Mexico for a tragicomic road trip deep into the mysteries of his own Midwestern childhood.

Sensitive, bighearted, and achingly self-conscious, forty-year-old Aaron Englund long ago escaped the confinements of his Midwestern hometown, but he still feels like an outcast. After twenty years under the Pygmalion-like care of his older partner, Walter, Aaron at last decides it is time to take control of his own fate. But soon after establishing himself in San Francisco, Aaron sees that real freedom will not come until he has made peace with his memories of Mortonville, Minnesota: a cramped town whose four hundred souls form a constellation of Aaron’s childhood heartbreaks and hopes.

After Aaron’s father died in the town parade, it was the larger-than life misfits of his childhood who helped Aaron find his place in a world hostile to difference. But Aaron’s sense of rejection runs deep: when Aaron was seventeen, Dolores—his loving yet selfish and enigmatic mother—vanished one night. And when, all these years later, a new friend in San Francisco offers Aaron a way to locate his mother, his past and present collide, forcing Aaron to rethink his place in the world.

“Touching and often hilarious…Ostlund writes with acuity and refreshing honesty about the messy complexity of being a social animal in today’s world…” (Booklist, starred review). “Everything here aches, from the lucid prose to the sensitively treated characters to their beautiful and heartbreaking stories…An example of realism in its most potent iteration: not a nearly arranged plot orchestrated by an authorial god but an authentic, empathetic representation of life as it truly is” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review). After the Parade is a glorious anthem for the outsider.
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About the author

Lori Ostlund’s first collection of stories, The Bigness of the World, received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the California Book Award for First Fiction, and the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award. It was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, was a Lambda finalist, and was named a Notable Book by The Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories and The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, among other publications. In 2009, Lori received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Award. She is the author of the novel, After the Parade and lives in San Francisco.

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Reviews

4.3
6 total
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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Sep 22, 2015
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9781476790121
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Fiction / Coming of Age
Fiction / LGBT / Gay
Fiction / Literary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Lori Ostlund
Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Prize, the Edmund White Award, and the California Book Award, Lori Ostlund’s “heartbreaking and wonderful” (Pulitzer Prize–winning author Richard Russo) debut collection of stories about men and women confronting the unmapped and unexpected.

In Lori Ostlund’s award-winning debut collection, people seeking escape from situations at home venture out into a world that they find is just as complicated and troubled as the one they left behind.

In prose highlighted by both satire and poignant observation, The Bigness of the World contains characters that represent a different sort of everyman—men and women who poke fun at ideological rigidity while holding fast to good grammar and manners, people seeking connections in a world that seems increasingly foreign. In “Upon Completion of Baldness,” a young woman shaves her head for a part in a movie in Hong Kong that will help her escape life with her lover in Albuquerque. In “All Boy,” a young logophile encounters the limits of language when he finds he prefers the comfort of a dark closet over the struggle to make friends at school. In “Dr. Deneau’s Punishment,” a math teacher leaving New York for Minnesota as a means of punishing himself engages in an unsettling method of discipline. In “Bed Death,” a couple travels Malaysia to teach only to find their relationship crumbling as they are accepted in their new environment. And in “Idyllic Little Bali,” a group of Americans gather around a pool in Java to discuss their brushes with fame and end up witnessing a man’s fatal flight from his wife.

“Ostlund constantly delights the reader with the subtlety of her insights as well as the carefulness of her prose” (San Francisco Chronicle), revealing that wherever you are in the world, where you came from is never far away. “Each piece is sublime” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
Lori Ostlund
Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Prize, the Edmund White Award, and the California Book Award, Lori Ostlund’s “heartbreaking and wonderful” (Pulitzer Prize–winning author Richard Russo) debut collection of stories about men and women confronting the unmapped and unexpected.

In Lori Ostlund’s award-winning debut collection, people seeking escape from situations at home venture out into a world that they find is just as complicated and troubled as the one they left behind.

In prose highlighted by both satire and poignant observation, The Bigness of the World contains characters that represent a different sort of everyman—men and women who poke fun at ideological rigidity while holding fast to good grammar and manners, people seeking connections in a world that seems increasingly foreign. In “Upon Completion of Baldness,” a young woman shaves her head for a part in a movie in Hong Kong that will help her escape life with her lover in Albuquerque. In “All Boy,” a young logophile encounters the limits of language when he finds he prefers the comfort of a dark closet over the struggle to make friends at school. In “Dr. Deneau’s Punishment,” a math teacher leaving New York for Minnesota as a means of punishing himself engages in an unsettling method of discipline. In “Bed Death,” a couple travels Malaysia to teach only to find their relationship crumbling as they are accepted in their new environment. And in “Idyllic Little Bali,” a group of Americans gather around a pool in Java to discuss their brushes with fame and end up witnessing a man’s fatal flight from his wife.

“Ostlund constantly delights the reader with the subtlety of her insights as well as the carefulness of her prose” (San Francisco Chronicle), revealing that wherever you are in the world, where you came from is never far away. “Each piece is sublime” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
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