Works by Christine Schutt

PROSPEROUS FRIENDS - Ned and Isabel are married, but other than a college courtship that neither ever felt like ending, their relationship appears to be more of a habit than a romance. Isabel is sad a lot. Ned, a writer, appears to have tried his hardest to make things better, but as everyone, including the doomed couple, knows, "There may be cures to loneliness but marriage is not one of them." The emotional tug of war that Ned and Isabel find themselves fighting, though not necessarily always on opposite sides of the rope, drives this poignant novel. Schutt (Florida) creates a noteworthy texture with what she withholds. Little back story is provided and what does contextualize Ned and Isabel's relationship comes piecemeal, over time, pushing the reader toward a more active engagement of imagining all that isn’t quite explained. The technique is effective, making for abrupt juxtapositions, vivid moments, and terse language, the sum of which feels fittingly reflective of the relationship itself. No one in the book seems quite sure why sometimes the bits and pieces of life and of love meld over time into one definable shape while others remain disparate and fractured."   Buy PROSPEROUS FRIENDS

ALL SOULS - In 1997, at the distinguished Siddons School on Manhattans Upper East Side, the school year opens with distressing news: Astra Dell is suffering from a rare disease. Astras friends try to reconcile the girls suffering with their own fierce longings and impetuous attachments. Car writes unsparing letters, which the dirty Marlene, in her devotion, then steals. Other classmates carry on: the silly team of Suki and Alex pursue Will Bliss while the subversive Lisa Van de Ven makes dates with Miss Wilkes. The world of private schools and privilege in New York City is funny, poignant, and cruel, and at its heart is the stricken Astra Dell, "that pale girl from the senior class, the dancer with all the hair, the red hair, knotted or braided or let to fall to her waist, a fever and she consumed."   Buy ALL SOULS

FLORIDA - Florida is the portrait of the artist as a young woman, an orphan's story full of loss and wonder, a familiar tale told in original language. Alice Fivey, fatherless at age seven, is left in the care of her relatives at ten when her love-wearied mother loses custody of her and submits to the sanitarium and years of psychiatric care. A namesake daughter locked in the orphan's move-around life, she must hold still while the seamstress pins her into someone not her mother. But they share the same name, so she is her mother, isn't she?
Alice finds consolation in books and she herself is a storyteller who must build a home for herself word by right word. Florida is her story, recalled in brief scenes of spare beauty and strangeness as Alice moves from house to house, ever further from the desolation of her mother's actions, ever closer to the meaning of her experience. In this most elegiac and luminous novel, Schutt gives voice to the feast of memory, the mystery of the mad and missing, and above all, the life-giving power of language.   Buy FLORIDA (paperback)

A DAY, A NIGHT, ANOTHER DAY, SUMMER - With prose that is at once sensual and spare, dreamlike and deliberate, Christine Schutt gives voice in this collection to what most keep hidden. Many of the stories take place in the home, where what is behind the thin domestic barriers of doors tends toward violence, unseemly sexual encounters, and mental anguish. Schutt opens these doors in sudden, bold moments and exposes the unsettling intimacy of the rooms and corridors of our innermost lives. Yet at the same time, her characters are often hopeful, even optimistic.
Startling and smartly wrought, A Day, a Night, Another Day, Summer is a breathtaking follow-up to Schutt's widely revered debut collection, Nightwork, and her critically acclaimed debut novel, Florida, which was a National Book Award Finalist.   Buy A DAY, A NIGHT, ANOTHER DAY, SUMMER

NIGHTWORK - A mother teaches her son how to kiss. A father and his grown daughter share secrets while sharing their bodies. A woman finds she cannot experience her lover's touch without succumbing to intensely erotic recollections of a past lover. Webs of memory, oblique emotion and immediate sensation — spun in prose that is spare, fevered, oblique and beautiful — Nightwork's tales tease out the sexual and the violent imbedded in the mundane .  Buy NIGHTWORK