This fictional memoir establishes Suzanne McNear as a distinctive voice in American literature. Written with the same quirky, ironic sensibility that brought praise for her story collection, Drought, it carries the reader through the upheavals of the sixties and seventies - the impact of Betty Friedan, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Vietnam War - in a style that is comic and painful and true.
It traces March River's journey from before birth, through her early years in a small Midwestern city where she felt always slightly out of step, east to boarding school in Connecticut, and finally to Vassar, where she finally felt at home. Unfortunately, on graduation, and unlike most of her classmates, she has no engagement ring, nor promise of one. "Perhaps you're one of those people who will never marry," her mother , a woman known to rattle her pearls and hit a mean golf ball announces.
After various jobs in New York and a love affair that ends abruptly she follows what seems the only practical path; pregnancy, marriage, children and life in Chicago. Seven years later, after many upheavals, there is a divorce and a terrifying breakdown. Her husband's chief occupation was writing mystery novels and opening bottles of Heaven Hill bourbon. Life was marked by the birth of three daughters and economic disaster.
This is a portrait of a woman who is fragile, uncertain, sometimes overwhelmed by life, but also fiercely committed to the survival of herself and her daughters. With courage, black humor, and unusual literary friendships, which included Saul Bellow, she eventually becomes an editor at Playboy and finally finds a sense of peace and accomplishments.
"Former Playboy fiction editor McNear's memoir recounts the life of an indecisive character, 'March Rivers', so constantly conflicted it seems extraordinary that she ever finds her way. Her self-effacing wit, pointed observations, and purposefully stilted dialogue are instantly relatble and charged with dark humor. McNear's book is a deeply pleasurable read and a reminder that not everyone worth admiring has a plan."
“Knock, Knock… Who’s there? Suzanne McNear’s memoir of an unconventional life filled with unexpected aperçus and odd encounters, written with quirky brilliance and elegant wisdom. A celebration and a triumph.” --Lily Tuck, author of I Married You for Happiness.
“McNear brings a world of bright hopesand hard knocks into focus. Will success at school make her popular? Will finding a lover make her loved? Will marrying and carrying children make her the daughter she’s meant to be? The world she grows up in is changing, and as a young woman she learns to hide behind a smile. She wants to fit in, but is condemned to feel like an imposter. Children bring connection to the present,even as depression drives March ever further from herself and her past; motherhood is not apple pie after all. March’s struggles finally come to fruition. The little girl who knew her neighbors so well eventually knows herself and tells her own tale, writing it down, bleeding an age into words, and delighting readers with hope’s ongoing fulfillment.” —Sheila Deeth, Gather.com
SUZANNE MCNEAR, a former editor and free lance journalist, now devotes herself to writing fiction, poetry and plays. Her essays have been published in The New York Times and Vogue. Like her protagonist, she was born in the Midwest, attended Vassar, had a horrific marriage, was an editor at Playboy, has three daughters, and a friendship with Saul Bellow. For the past fifteen years she's lived in Sag Harbor, New York.