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The Fates Will Find Their Way Finely crafted fiction that ultimately left me unsatisfied The Fates Will Find Their Way was performance art than story ambience than psychological insight melancholy goo than piercing insight Many have compared Hannah Pittard's use of the first person plural narration to The Virgin Suicides and so did I even before I read a single review and despite having never read Jeffrey Eugenides's book Perhaps it was a deliberate answer to the 1993 book but to what purpose I cannot say There is death attempted suicide sex crime and upper middle class angst aplenty in this work but the overarching hazy cynicism was so off putting I could find no reason for the telling or the imagining of Nora Lindell's story I admired this book's bones but not it's heart I did not like this book At all Not one bit I cannot find one minute piece of redeeming value in it The sad thing is that I expected to enjoy it; as one of the book review blogs I read listed it as one of their favorite books they will probably read all yearFirst of all the narrators of the book are a group of men who grew up together and had one of their classmates disappear while they were in high school And then they were obsessed with her the rest of their life or at least for the rest of the book So early on in the book there is all this sexual horny high school boy stuff And the whole book is just dark And depressing And for the whole book they are just guessing what they think happened to her But they don't actually know And they SPOILER ALERT never actually find out So the whole book felt like a waste Plus the book was not written chronologically so it was jumping all over the place and I was so confused It would always be saying but this is 5 years before such and such and 10 years after such and such sometimes referencing things they hadn't fully explained ARG Anyway hated this book Least favorite book ever I only read the whole thing because it was only 240 pages and I probably invested less than 4 hours of my life into it Worth it to be able to write negative review DO NOT READ THIS Without knowing anything about the author or the buzz for this book I felt after reading it that it's destined to be a darling of the critics and end up on a lot of Best of 2011 lists My first problem is that it kept reminding me over and over of a much better book; Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides Like that book it's short it's got a kind of dreamlike tone to it the catalytic tragic event involving a teenage girl takes place in roughly the same era the mid 1970s the upper class suburban setting is similar the unusual collective first person narration by a group of boysmen from the distance of time is similar and perhaps most importantly like The Virgin Suicides the book doesn't seek to provide answers I'm not suggesting that this debut copies that one in any way merely that it was so reminiscent of it especially in tone that I couldn't read it without constantly thinking of the Virgin SuicidesWhat happens is that one Halloween in roughly the mid 1970s Sixteen year old Nora Lindell goes missing The book spins out the conseuences of this disappearance both in the direct lives of her family especially her younger sister Sissy as well as in the collective unconscious and conscious not to mention conscience of the kids and parents in the neighborhood The book unfolds in brief chapters progressing through time Some of these offer a speculative story of Nora's life after the disappearance while the others follow the neighborhood boys through the rest of high school and on into adulthood and middle age The book does a nice job of capturing how groups of friends can return over and over to retell or dissect pivotal shared experiences form the past However it's very much about the group and how the group interacts and the idea of collective memory there aren't really any individual characters here to get invested in The short chapters have the sparse honed feel of fiction that has been crafted rather than written always teetering on the brink of preciousness I suppose in the end I felt like the second person voice and episodic vignettes were a carefully calibrated attempt to reach some kind of emotional truth and for me that attempt failed Results may vary I can easily imagine myself reading this back when I was in college and loving it This was an odd yet beautifully written book that has worked its way into my mind and really left me thinking I'm grateful to Rakesh Satyal one of my Facebook friends and author of the fabulous Blue Boy who recommended this book last week as I don't know if I would have heard about it otherwise One Halloween 16 year old Nora Lindell disappears No one really knows what happened to her although a group of boys who went to school with her have a number of theories given random rumors and alleged sightings they've heard about Much like how the girls' deaths in The Virgin Suicides colored the lives of those around them Nora's disappearance has the same ripple effect on these boys shaping how they view and act in the future They imagine different paths that Nora might have taken and through the years supposed Nora sightings occur in the most unlikely of places As these boys become men their obsession with all things Nora and to an extent her younger sister Sissy saves them from being mired completely in the minutia of their own adulthood For some Nora's disappearance is a tiny catalyst that sets them on a self destructive course that might not manifest itself for years; for others it is the push toward saving themselves This isn't just a book about a missing girl; this is a book about how the disappearance of a peer that many lusted after alters the course of lives in a small town Hannah Pittard weaves an absolutely beautiful narrative thread and while at times it is difficult to tell all of the characters apart the story is at once compelling and off putting I don't ordinarily like books where the narrator imagines what happens to other characters rather than actually tells what happens but in Pittard's hands that exercise worked tremendously And while I'd like to know what really did happen to Nora somehow making up my own version of her story is as intriguing for me as it was for the boys Really excellent book I'm not sure if I really liked this book but I know that I really liked the writing There are beautiful sentences and imagery and ideas strung out here There is a kind of twinkling to Pittard's prose It is that pink time of night It's that time of night just before our wives come to bed We can hear them rummaging about in the kitchen beneath us turning off lights returning a stray dish to its rightful place in the cabinet giving the dog a final treat where the streetlights flicker to life the air is lavender effervescentMy gripe—and it's really only a personal opinion—is the execution of the novel Everyone is comparing its use of the collective to The Virgin Suicides and that is kind of unavoidable seeing as how both novels deal with the male consciousness as directed in dreamlike uality toward the female mystery Clearly it was powerful in the former but I actually think that delivery did Fates a disservice I see why it was done but like all of the maybes the book supposes I wonder what shape this might have taken told in another way And I couldn't uite believe the fixation on Nora—regardless of the unfinished feeling her disappearance may have left—after all of the years I wasn't convincedStill I would recommend this especially to book clubs And again the prose is beautiful Hmm This is a novel by a young woman who imagines a chorus of suburban boys – perverted imaginative creepy – as narrators Everything here is told in first person plural “We were creeps” “We went to Danny’s basement apartment” “We wondered what happened to her”It’s a nifty effect for a short story but over the long haul of a novel it presents problems We uit caring The narrators become two dimensional hollowThe boys – six or seven I’ve lost count – live in a nondescript suburb around I think the late 1970s One Halloween when they are all roughly 16 neighborhood beauty Nora Lindell goes missing She’s the girl they’ve all lusted after and maybe slept with though they usually tell each other details of every conuest From there the boys grow older and older; other than that they don’t change or develop much Each man possesses only superficial things that separate him from the others – no deep conflicts no burning uests no passionate dichotomies This chorus of boys imagines Nora’s life or death based on the gossip that swirls around her rumors that they cull from their and their mothers’ suburban lives Was Nora murdered? Did she get raped? Was she pregnant and ashamed fleeing to Arizona and then to other places across the globe? All of the possibilities are thin mythical and even somewhat unbelievable Because boys are making this up – imagining where they lack concrete information – this approach works for many of these tangents away from the boys’ livesThe problems are the boys Their individual biographies should be rendered in full color without sinking to some blanket stereotype that all boys are oversexed and under civilized In fact that’s not the only sweeping generality about these poor boys One of them has zits smokes weed has family tragedies Another cheats on his wife One of them is criminally sexually perverted Other than those label y descriptors I couldn’t tell any of these young men apartThere is a sense here that young author Hannah Pittard is searching for universal clarity She is attempting to get into the collective heads of American teenaged boys trying to represent them as a culture She struggles to understand But by her thinning them into a single “we” voice she misses the point that each human – even a “pervert” teenaged boy – is an individual with uniue wants needs viewpoints and folliesIt’s not like the girls or the parents are treated that much better in fact Perhaps inspired by her “we” approach everyone here is rendered a bit wispy and uninteresting It’s also not as if Pittard lacks a talent for words; descriptions of places are so vivid that you can draw maps in your head She just hasn’t yet learned that her worlds need to be populated with real people human souls we readers can care about A masterful literary debut that shines a light into the dream filled space between childhood and all that follows The Fates Will Find Their Way is a story about the stories we tell ourselves of who we once were and may someday becomeSixteen year old Nora Lindell is missing And the neighborhood boys she's left behind are caught forever in the heady current of her absence As the days and years pile up the mystery of her disappearance grows kaleidoscopically A collection of rumors divergent suspicions and tantalizing what ifs Nora Lindell's story is a shadowy projection of teenage lust friendship reverence and regret captured magically in the disembodied plural voice of the boys who still long for her Told in haunting percussive prose Hannah Pittard's beautifully crafted novel tracks the emotional progress of the sister Nora left behind the other families in their leafy suburban enclave and the individual fates of the boys in her thrall Far eager to imagine Nora's fate than to scrutinize their own the boys sleepwalk into an adulthood of jobs marriages families homes and daughters of their own all the while pining for a girl – and a life – that no longer exists except in the imagination In your endless summer night I'll be on the other sideWhen you're beautiful and dying All the world that you've denied What does Hole's Boys on the Radio have to do with Hannah Pittard's The Fates Will Find Their Way A Novel besides me wishing I'd written them both? To me both Courtney Love Hannah Pittard or perhaps Billy Corgan for Courtney Love perfectly evoke a sense of youthful longing that is so incredibly intense it's hard to move past it Pittard's novel chronicles a group of suburban boys as they repeatedly fail at moving past this longing even into their adulthood As others have mentioned it's a novel dealing with imagined what ifs in response to a neighborhood girl's disappearance Oh but it's so so much than that and it's incredibly frustrating that I can't even begin to come close to describing how beautiful this novel isI should mention that the only reason I even picked this book up was because I saw it compared to The Virgin Suicides on two different sites I read Eugenides' novel in 1999 It was such an ethereal perfect read that I immediately categorized it as one to save for a future re read I've yet to re read it I will soon but I can tell you that Pittard's novel comes extremely close to the perfection that is The Virgin Suicides I want everyone to read The Fates Will Find Their Way A Novel seriously If you're worried about it being depressing just know that Pittard's look into the male adolescent brain is as funny as that scene in the junkyard in Stand By Me when the boys discuss Annette Funicello's assets I recalled that junkyard scene when reading one similar in tone in The Fates Will Find Their Way The neighborhood boys contemplate the sexiness of one of their classmates' moms and the narrator says this Mrs Dinnerman was the hottest of all the moms In some ways it was a shame that she had to be called a mom at all It seemed beneath her station With zingers like this nestled on every few pages how could you not love Hannah Pittard? This author is a keeper Take the nostalgia of The Wonder Years add the boys’ club feeling of The Sandlot and mix in the dark and complicated narration of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides and you will arrive at an approximation of the tenor of Hannah Pittard’s debut The Fates Will Find Their WayIn a time that must be somewhere in the mid Atlantic around the mid 1980s a group of boys comes of age Yet in the midst of their growing up a neighborhood girl Nora Lindell an object of their admiration goes missing on Halloween night Her fate is never known The boys — who later become young men husbands and fathers — are undeterred in their mental pursuit of her spending their lives hypothesizing about Nora Lindell’s whereabouts But while the boys take them as imaginary gospel truths they are just that — ever shifting hypotheses Imagining Nora as the wife of an older Mexican man in Arizona the narrator says“Let’s say it was a summer day One that was uncharacteristically hot even for Arizona It was like this — it had to be like this — because heat alone — isolated confined — can make a person crazy can turn a good thing bad if only for a moment And don’t forget that we like the Mexican We like him because like us he loves Nora He has cared for Nora and her two babies So let’s say it was hot Let’s say there was enough heat to excuse any sing any crime any transgression just this once”Beyond the hypothetical tone that permeates the entire novel the most fascinating feature of this book is highlighted in the above passage — the use of a first person plural point of view While the boys are named the narrative voice transcends the point of view of any single young man; they are “we” as boys and “we” are adults The narrative voice is none of them and all of them at the same time perfectly expressing the follies of childhood from the safe distance of adulthoodWe were sophos newly sixteen a year shy of missing Nora Lindell terribly We were creeps jerks idiots We were boys; we couldn’t help ourselvesPartially due to this narrative perspective the novel lacks a linear plot This isn’t a murder mystery It isn’t a tale of boyhood adventure Each chapter is like a vignette capturing a particular incident in this life of this group of friends — moments pushing them from childhood to the acceptance of their adulthoodAnd that’s really what the Nora Lindell obsession is about — a hesitance to let go of the things of childhood and grow up Preferring to obsess on their youth the men age and accept adult responsibilities without emotional maturation This is a debut that without a doubt will catapult Pittard into the literary elite It’s experimental and fresh without being self conscious The writing is impeccable and exciting This is a novel that creeps up on you in all the best ways Pre order a copy of this book You won’t regret being among the first in your circle to devour this novel and you’ll feel proud to have “discovered” this rare new talent This book reminded me so much of The Virgin Suicides in that the narrative is of boys who have since become men obsessing over two elusive girls Nora and Sissy Lindell Nora than Sissy They observe these girls too closely obsess over them too deeply while their wives are in the next room They sit together and reminisce and they cling to Nora who has been missing for years wondering always what she has been up to all of these years refusing to think too long upon what is probably true she's been dead since she went missingThe books is so human and so unbelievably male it's hard to believe that the author is female She must understand the male psyche or maybe she just made that version of the male psyche up but it seemed foreign to me the female reader somehow accessible but impenetrableI really enjoyed that the identity of the speaker was first person plural If it was a singular member of the collective group of boys then he is never named and if he is the collective mind of all of the men he is always an outsider and never informed of specifics The narrator speculates and rarely specifies; remembers but not the whole story This is why it's human I hate when book narrators remember details that no normal human would remember such as exactly when and how and what colour the wallpaper was as it was hung Nobody remembers the insignificant details even if somehow in the future they will be important we don't remember because we have no way to know that these details will matter That's what I love about this book It doesn't pretend to be anything than humanI really loved this book although it was disturbing because it was disturbing in the way that real life can be disturbing and weird I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a break from the fantasy ridden shelves of the book store To people who like a good story that is personal and yet other Excellent read

  • Hardcover
  • 256 pages
  • The Fates Will Find Their Way
  • Hannah Pittard
  • English
  • 20 August 2015
  • 9780061996054