The Great Wide Open
'[Kennedy] possesses a Hitchcockian approach to this narrative hub; tension and twists are administered in equal measure . . . The ordinary becomes, through his careful plotting, extraordinary.' - Independent on Sunday
"All families are secret societies. Realms of intrigue and internal warfare, governed by their own rules . . ."
It's 1980s New York. Heady, excessive times. Alice Burns - a young book editor - is deep into a manuscript about the morass of family life. The observations resonates, perhaps because she has just watched her own family implode.
As she reads she wonders: When did the sadness start? And could it be that unhappiness is a choice?
Thus begins a great American epic which follows Alice as she navigates high school bullying, first love and sexism at an elite college, a spell in 1970's Ireland, and a tragedy that sends her stateside as the US embraces a cowboy actor named Reagan. But it is also the tale of her endlessly complex parents and brothers; how their destinies are written by the lies they tell themselves and others.
The Great Wide Open is an immensely ambitious and compulsive saga; a novel which will speak volumes to anyone who has marvelled at that pain that can only be caused by family itself.
'In his fast-paced, engrossing novels Douglas Kennedy always has his brilliant finger on the entertaining parts of human sorrow, fury, and narrow escapes.' - Lorrie Moore
'Kennedy's skill is to send you racing down the slope of sheer story.' - Esquire