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Larry's Party (1997)

por Carol Shields

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1,759357,154 (3.63)1 / 159
The San Diego Tribune called The Stone Diaries a "universal study of what makes women tick." With Larry's PartyCarol Shields has done the same for men. Larry Weller, born in 1950, is an ordinary guy made extraordinary by his creator's perception, irony, and tenderness. Larry's Party gives us, as it were, a CAT scan of his life, in episodes between 1977 and 1997, that seamlessly flash backward and forward. We follow this young floral designer through two marriages and divorces, and his interactions with his parents, friends, and a son. Throughout, we witness his deepening passion for garden mazes--so like life, with their teasing treachery and promise of reward. Among all the paradoxes and accidents of his existence, Larry moves through the spontaneity of the seventies, the blind enchantment of the eighties, and the lean, mean nineties, completing at last his quiet, stubborn search for self. Larry's odyssey mirrors the male condition at the end of our century with targeted wit, unerring poignancy, and faultless wisdom.… (mais)
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While Shields' writing is as fresh as ever, certain tidbits at Larry's Party (1997) seem to be re-warmed leftovers from her masterpiece, The Stone Diaries (1993). Both novels contain male protagonists obsessed with building: here, Larry is a maker of mazes, reminiscent of the mason in The Stone Diaries. Each chapter in Larry's Party focuses on a particular aspect of Larry's life: even his penis gets a section. But each chapter seems to have started out independently; strung together, they get repetitious. However, the book does eventually come to a brilliant and unexpected conclusion. I enjoyed it, but not as much as The Stone Diaries, Unless (2002), or Shields' collection of short stories, Dressing Up for the Carnival (2000). ( )
  stephkaye | Dec 14, 2020 |
I really enjoyed this story which follows Larry from his early marriage to Dorrie and his developing passion for maze design and growth. This is a character driven narrative and the reader spends sometime inside Larry's head. Their is strong character development as his marriage fails and he develops his passion for maze growing, creating his own business, while trying to maintain a relationship with his young son.
The dinner party at the close of the book made for a great ending. I found the whole concept of the story quite original and would like to visit a maze. The character of Larry will stay with me in the coming weeks. ( )
1 vote HelenBaker | Sep 16, 2018 |
Larry Weller is 26 and single when we meet him in the first chapter. We follow Larry through two marriages, fatherhood, and a career in horticulture in the next two decades. The chapters provide snapshots of Larry's life at various points on the continuum between 1977 and 1997, with each chapter focusing on a particular aspect of his life (love, family, work, friends, etc.).

The other two novels I've read by this author (The Stone Diaries and Unless) are about women's agency. I was curious to see what she would do with men. Larry isn't an alpha male. He's successful, yet he doesn't have a clear purpose for his life. Things work out for Larry, though. He finds a way to earn a living by doing what he loves – designing mazes. The women in Larry's life have stronger personalities, and they all upstage him whenever he's with them in the pages of his story.

When Larry met his second wife, Beth, she was working on a doctoral thesis on “women saints and the nature of feminine goodness.” Goodness is a theme of Shields's later novel, Unless. The central character in The Stone Diaries bears the name Goodwill. It might be interesting to trace this theme through Shields's body of work. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Aug 5, 2017 |
Pleasant enough, like the title character Larry, I suppose, but while it tries to touch on this or that 'big topic' it does so only out of obligation and never makes anything of it. Larry is not engaging enough to care about and none of the other characters are developed at all, since they flit in and out of the narrative, so there's really no here here. The structure is interesting - were these originally free-standing short stories? - but nothing useful is made of it so eventually it just becomes a bit frustrating to have to read through a recapitulation of the story so far each time a new chapter begins. That device could have been used to add a lot more depth to the story but it was not. A harmless read, and though the time is pleasantly spent you'll come away from it with nothing.
  TBergen | Apr 2, 2017 |
An episodic accounting of a man's life, one instilled by past family tragedies, in which he makes an unlikely, diverting, way in business while experiencing the pitfalls of love. Her writing is smooth, and she uses an interesting method of reframing memories as the years (chapters) accumulate. Ultimately though, I found the story a bit trite, the characters too self-centered, the insistent occupation with sex an annoyance. Maybe I'm weary of the self-indulgent motif. ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Dec 4, 2016 |
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Carol Shieldsautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculated
Dijk, Edith vanTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
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What is this mightly labyrinth-- the earth, but a wild maze the moment of our birth.

- "Reflections on walking in the maze at Hampton Court" British Magazine, 1747
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For Joseph, Nicholas, and Sofia
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By mistake Larry Weller took someone else's Harris tweed jacket instead of his own, and it wasn't till he jammed his hand in the pocket that he knew something was wrong.
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The San Diego Tribune called The Stone Diaries a "universal study of what makes women tick." With Larry's PartyCarol Shields has done the same for men. Larry Weller, born in 1950, is an ordinary guy made extraordinary by his creator's perception, irony, and tenderness. Larry's Party gives us, as it were, a CAT scan of his life, in episodes between 1977 and 1997, that seamlessly flash backward and forward. We follow this young floral designer through two marriages and divorces, and his interactions with his parents, friends, and a son. Throughout, we witness his deepening passion for garden mazes--so like life, with their teasing treachery and promise of reward. Among all the paradoxes and accidents of his existence, Larry moves through the spontaneity of the seventies, the blind enchantment of the eighties, and the lean, mean nineties, completing at last his quiet, stubborn search for self. Larry's odyssey mirrors the male condition at the end of our century with targeted wit, unerring poignancy, and faultless wisdom.

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