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The Burgess Boys

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The Burgess Boys

A Novel
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Includes Elizabeth Strout's never-before-published essay about the origins of The Burgess BoysNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington PostNPRGood...
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Includes Elizabeth Strout's never-before-published essay about the origins of The Burgess BoysNAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington PostNPRGood...
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Description-
  • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERIncludes Elizabeth Strout's never-before-published essay about the origins of The Burgess Boys

    NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY

    The Washington Post
  • NPR
  • Good Housekeeping

    Elizabeth Strout "animates the ordinary with an astonishing force," wrote The New Yorker on the publication of her Pulitzer Prize--winning Olive Kitteridge. The San Francisco Chronicle praised Strout's "magnificent gift for humanizing characters." Now the acclaimed author returns with a stunning novel as powerful and moving as any work in contemporary literature.

    Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan--the Burgess sibling who stayed behind--urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

    With a rare combination of brilliant storytelling, exquisite prose, and remarkable insight into character, Elizabeth Strout has brought to life two deeply human protagonists whose struggles and triumphs will resonate with readers long after they turn the final page. Tender, tough-minded, loving, and deeply illuminating about the ties that bind us to family and home, The Burgess Boys is Elizabeth Strout's newest and perhaps most astonishing work of literary art.

    Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader's Circle for author chats and more.

    "What truly makes Strout exceptional . . . is the perfect balance she achieves between the tides of story and depths of feeling."--Chicago Tribune

    "Strout's prose propels the story forward with moments of startlingly poetic clarity."--The New Yorker

    "Elizabeth Strout's first two books, Abide with Me and Amy and Isabelle, were highly thought of, and her third, Olive Kitteridge, won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. But The Burgess Boys, her most recent novel, is her best yet."--The Boston Globe

    "A portrait of an American community in turmoil that's as ambitious as Philip Roth's American Pastoral but more intimate in tone."--Time

    "[Strout's] extraordinary narrative gifts are evident again. . . . At times [The Burgess Boys is] almost effortlessly fluid, with superbly rendered dialogue, sudden and unexpected bolts of humor and . . . startling riffs of gripping emotion."--Associated Press

    "[Strout] is at her masterful best when conjuring the two Burgess boys. . . . Scenes between them ring so true."--San Francisco Chronicle

    From the Trade Paperback edition.
 
Awards-
Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    On a breezy October afternoon in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Helen Farber Burgess was packing for vacation. A big blue suitcase lay open on the bed, and clothes her husband had chosen the night before were folded and stacked on the lounge chair nearby. Sunlight kept springing into the room from the shifting clouds outside, making the brass knobs on the bed shine brightly and the suitcase become very blue. Helen was walking back and forth between the dressing room--­with its enormous mirrors and white horsehair wallpaper, the dark woodwork around the long window--­walking between that and the bedroom, which had French doors that were closed right now, but in warmer weather opened onto a deck that looked out over the garden. Helen was experiencing a kind of mental paralysis that occurred when she packed for a trip, so the abrupt ringing of the telephone brought relief. When she saw the word private, she knew it was either the wife of one of her husband's law partners--­they were a prestigious firm of famous lawyers--­or else her brother-­in-­law, Bob, who'd had an unlisted number for years but was not, and never would be, famous at all.

    "I'm glad it's you," she said, pulling a colorful scarf from the bureau drawer, holding it up, dropping it on the bed.

    "You are?" Bob's voice sounded surprised.

    "I was afraid it would be Dorothy." Walking to the window, Helen peered out at the garden. The plum tree was bending in the wind, and yellow leaves from the bittersweet swirled across the ground.

    "Why didn't you want it to be Dorothy?"

    "She tires me right now," said Helen.

    "You're about to go away with them for a week."

    "Ten days. I know."

    A short pause, and then Bob said, "Yeah," his voice dropping into an understanding so quick and entire--­it was his strong point, Helen thought, his odd ability to fall feetfirst into the little pocket of someone else's world for those few seconds. It should have made him a good husband but apparently it hadn't: Bob's wife had left him years ago.

    "We've gone away with them before," Helen reminded him. "It'll be fine. Alan's an awfully nice fellow. Dull."

    "And managing partner of the firm," Bob said.

    "That too." Helen sang the words playfully. "A little difficult to say, 'Oh, we'd rather go alone on this trip.' Jim says their older girl is really messing up right now--­she's in high school--­and the family therapist suggested that Dorothy and Alan get away. I don't know why you 'get away' if your kid's messing up, but there we are."

    "I don't know either," Bob said sincerely. Then: "Helen, this thing just happened."

    She listened, folding a pair of linen slacks. "Come on over," she interrupted. "We'll go across the street for dinner when Jim gets home."

    After that she was able to pack with authority. The colorful scarf was included with three white linen blouses and black ballet flats and the coral necklace Jim had bought her last year. Over a whiskey sour with Dorothy on the terrace, while they waited for the men to shower from golf, Helen would say, "Bob's an interesting fellow." She might even mention the accident--­how it was Bob, four years old, who'd been playing with the gears that caused the car to roll over their father and kill him; the man had walked down the hill of the driveway to fix something about the mailbox, leaving all three young kids in the car. A perfectly awful thing. And never mentioned. Jim had told her once in thirty years. But Bob was an anxious man, Helen liked to watch out for him.

    "You're rather a saint," Dorothy might say, sitting back, her eyes blocked by...

About the Author-
  • Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.

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    Random House Publishing Group
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