A WONDERFUL STROKE OF LUCK By Ann Beattie
When you start publishing fiction, it’s impossible to see where the road might lead. What will you produce after five years, after 10 years or, if you’re like Ann Beattie, after more than 40 years? At first, there’s only the thrill of your name in print, your labored-over words and the worlds you’ve created finally being read and, with any luck, appreciated. At that moment, it’s impossible to know what peaks and valleys are ahead; to know how your work — the quality of it, your relationship to it, what you want to or are able to say — will change over time.
I thought about that long road often as I read Beattie’s new novel (and her 21st book), “A Wonderful Stroke of Luck.” Here is a writer who produced some of the finest short stories of the 20th century, who brought a new sensibility to the form and a woman’s voice that had not been heard before. And the literary world appreciated it: Since 1974’s “A Platonic Relationship,” her first story to appear in The New Yorker, she’s been a fixture there and in other top-flight literary magazines, and has won many more prizes and honors than can be listed here. Her name became an adjective, Beattie-esque, a way of describing quiet, astringent fiction that showed white baby boomers (Beattie’s closest peers) emerging, dazed, from the 1960s and trying to make sense of their lives. The men, and particularly the women, that Beattie gave us were trying to find a way. But they often didn’t. And she made readers care.
[ Read our review of Ann Beattie’s “The New Yorker Stories,” named one of our best books of 2010. ]
In “A Wonderful Stroke of Luck,” we meet Ben (no surname, for reasons that are unclear, since other characters have them), a young man who, like so many of Beattie’s people, drifts through life. At the novel’s beginning, shortly before 9/11, he’s at Bailey Academy, a fictional prep school in New Hampshire, part of an informal elite group of students who collect around a teacher named Pierre LaVerdere. On 9/11, Jasper, one of Ben’s classmates, loses his father, which the students find out after watching the towers burn. Beattie brings this tragedy into the story but doesn’t develop it; Jasper and his loss dart through the narrative, never leaving much of an impression on Ben (it seems) or on the reader. Time moves on: Ben makes his way through college, sleeps with a number of women and then moves to upstate New York. His life there is upended by the sudden (and unexplained) reappearance of LaVerdere in his life, who announces to Ben that he has AIDS and that he had an affair with Ben’s stepmother. (It’s worth noting here that AIDS, an illness that carries enormous emotional and political weight, is tossed into the story late in the game, in what seems to be an effort to raise the stakes of a novel that has been diffuse and low-stakes to that point.)
It’s somewhat difficult to relate what happens in “A Wonderful Stroke of Luck.” This isn’t surprising: Beattie has never been a plot-driven writer. In her best earlier work, that isn’t a problem. But in this novel, I found myself wishing for an index of characters so I could see who was who, to figure out what mattered and why.
“A Wonderful Stroke of Luck” does contain some elegant sentences and cutting observations that remind a reader of Beattie at her strongest and provide some moments of pleasure. But when I was done with this novel, I sought out and read two of her best short stories of the 1970s: “Weekend” and “The Burning House.” Both are dazzling and quietly insightful — as is so much of her previous work. One hopes that as Beattie continues down the final stretch of road of her life as a fiction writer, she finds her way back to the perceptiveness and skill she has shown so abundantly in the past.B:
凤凰天机心水网【第】【三】【百】【零】【四】【章】 【淘】【汰】【赛】【可】【以】【说】【是】【败】【者】【组】【拿】【到】【世】【界】【赛】【门】【票】【的】【唯】【一】【机】【会】。 【几】【十】【支】【队】【伍】【车】【轮】【赛】，【最】【后】【胜】【出】【三】【组】。 【观】【众】【席】【人】【山】【人】【海】，【姚】【云】【野】【和】【戴】【决】【明】【混】【在】【其】【中】，【听】【着】【身】【后】【各】【家】【战】【队】【的】【粉】【丝】【震】【耳】【欲】【聋】【的】【喊】【声】。 “ＱＷＥ【加】【油】！！！” “ＰＯＩ【加】【油】！！！” “ＡＳＤ【加】【油】！！！” …… 【戴】【决】【明】【就】【凑】
【清】【晨】，【山】【脚】【下】【船】【舱】【外】，【妙】【龄】【少】【女】【单】【手】【捏】【丝】【帕】，【假】【装】【擦】【眼】【泪】，【看】【得】【宋】【若】【兰】【暗】【自】【称】【奇】。 【将】【心】【上】【人】【打】【包】【送】【人】【这】【种】【事】，【估】【计】【也】【就】【那】【傻】【缺】【做】【的】【出】【了】，【可】【惜】【了】【风】【华】【正】【茂】【的】【大】【佬】，【拜】【拜】【为】【上】，【看】【多】【了】【扎】【心】。 “【刘】【姑】【娘】【一】【路】【好】【走】，【本】【宫】【会】【好】【生】【照】【料】【皇】【叔】，【弟】【妹】【略】【皮】，【还】【望】【刘】【姑】【娘】【海】【涵】。”【若】【有】【大】【浪】【该】【多】【好】，【一】【生】【不】【见】，【各】【自】【安】【好】。
“【我】【记】【得】【那】【是】【在】【一】【个】【寒】【冷】【的】【冬】【日】，【大】【雪】【纷】【飞】，【把】【我】【的】【眼】【神】，【晕】【染】【的】【如】【同】【明】【镜】！” 【张】【小】【凡】【站】【起】【来】，【抬】【起】【头】，【仰】【望】【着】【天】【空】，【双】【手】【付】【于】【身】【后】，【一】【副】【世】【外】【高】【人】【的】【模】【样】。 【柳】【如】【风】【听】【到】【这】【番】【话】，【不】【禁】【为】【张】【小】【凡】【鼓】【掌】，【而】【后】，【平】【静】【的】【道】：“【你】【能】【不】【能】****?” 【张】【小】【凡】【瞪】【了】【柳】【如】【风】【一】【眼】，【不】【悦】【道】：“【耐】【心】【点】【儿】，【故】【事】【要】【慢】
【白】【猴】【神】【算】【呵】【呵】【一】【笑】，【一】【边】【往】【前】【走】【一】【边】【慢】【慢】【道】：“【下】【一】【站】，【去】【哪】【个】【世】【界】【好】【呢】？” “【咕】【唧】！【咕】【唧】！” 【小】【白】【猴】【的】【叫】【声】【和】【白】【猴】【神】【算】【的】【笑】【声】【渐】【行】【渐】【远】，【若】【是】【有】【人】【在】【这】【里】【的】【话】，【就】【绝】【对】【会】【惊】【讶】【地】【发】【现】，【那】【一】【人】【一】【猴】，【虽】【然】【是】【向】【前】【行】【走】【的】，【但】【是】【身】【影】【却】【渐】【渐】【地】【变】【得】【透】【明】，【直】【至】【完】【全】【不】【见】【了】【踪】【影】。 【等】【到】【东】【临】【的】【人】【赶】【到】【这】【里】【的】【时】凤凰天机心水网“【对】【了】，【莫】【念】，【我】【还】【没】【有】【认】【真】【的】【给】【你】【介】【绍】【过】，【她】【是】【珠】【儿】，【我】【妹】【妹】，【年】【初】【刚】【刚】【从】q【星】【球】【回】【来】【的】……” 【什】【么】【妹】【妹】？【我】【没】【有】【听】【错】【吧】？【莫】【念】【觉】【得】【自】【己】【头】【都】【晕】【了】，【感】【觉】【突】【然】【像】【被】【雷】【击】【一】【样】。【从】【来】【都】【没】【有】【听】【说】【过】【他】【有】【妹】【妹】，【这】【个】【妹】【妹】【难】【道】【从】【石】【头】【缝】【里】【蹦】【出】【来】【的】【吗】？ 【珠】【儿】【微】【微】【的】【一】【笑】，“【我】【是】【他】【没】【有】【血】【缘】【关】【系】【的】【妹】【妹】，【我】【母】【亲】【嫁】
“【团】【长】，【快】，【快】【接】【住】【你】【的】【蛇】【儿】【子】！”【阿】【楠】【不】【敢】【说】【什】【么】，【阿】【汉】【可】【不】【是】。 【刚】【才】【夜】【御】【寒】【的】【话】【深】【入】【的】【不】【仅】【是】【阿】【楠】【的】【脑】【海】，【此】【时】【阿】【汉】【的】【脑】【海】【中】【也】【都】【是】【团】【长】【突】【然】【多】【出】【了】【一】【个】【儿】【子】。 【虽】【然】，【这】【儿】【子】【是】【个】【蛇】【儿】【子】！ 【但】【是】！！ 【这】【可】【是】**【蛇】【啊】！ 【团】【长】【这】【运】【气】【也】【是】【够】【好】【的】！ 【因】【为】【这】【厮】**【蛇】，【北】【极】【狐】【对】【它】【的】【厌】【恶】【也】【就】
【腊】【月】【二】【十】【七】，【大】【雪】【飞】【扬】，【寒】【风】【肆】【虐】，【天】【地】【之】【间】【一】【片】【混】【沌】。 【时】【间】【刚】【过】【寅】【时】，【天】【还】【没】【亮】，【整】【个】【连】【子】【村】【儿】【静】【谧】【的】【只】【听】【得】【到】【落】【雪】【的】【声】【音】。 【冬】【日】【里】【天】【短】【夜】【长】【又】【没】【有】【活】【计】，【人】【们】【都】【乐】【的】【在】【温】【暖】【的】【被】【窝】【里】【多】【躺】【一】【会】【儿】，【更】【何】【况】【是】【这】【种】【恶】【劣】【的】【暴】【风】【雪】【天】【气】，【别】【说】【人】【了】，【就】【连】【狗】【都】【缩】【在】【狗】【窝】【里】【不】【愿】【意】【露】【头】。 【青】【山】【脚】【下】，【文】【家】【的】【小】
【红】【石】【头】【山】【现】【在】【已】【经】【变】【成】【了】【土】【坡】，【而】【生】【活】【在】【上】【面】【的】【蛇】【头】【人】【部】【落】【也】【毁】【于】【一】【旦】，【看】【着】【矮】【了】【不】【知】【道】【多】【少】【倍】【的】【红】【石】【头】【山】，【元】【斗】【不】【由】【得】【想】【起】【了】【那】【些】【棘】【手】【的】【蛇】【头】【人】。“【话】【说】【你】【们】【知】【道】【那】【些】【蛇】【头】【人】【跑】【哪】【去】【了】【吗】，【会】【不】【会】【还】【在】【山】【上】？” “【应】【该】【都】【死】【了】【吧】，【不】【然】【的】【话】，【巨】【人】【和】【蚂】【蚁】【大】【战】【怎】【么】【着】【也】【该】【出】【现】【才】【是】【吧】？”【连】【嫣】【说】。 “【应】【该】【没】【这】