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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Nobodies Album by Carolyn Parkhurst

Parkhurst, Carolyn.  The Nobodies Album.

An unusual approach to a novel, but for me, ultimately successful.  Parkhurst's protagonist Octavia Frost is a novelist who has decided to re-write the endings to some of her previous novels.  Just as she is to deliver her manuscript to her publisher, she learns that her son has been arrested for the murder of his girlfriend.

Parkhurst's prose flows, pulling the reader into an almost poetic narration concerning Octavia's still very present grief over the deaths of her husband and daughter in the past, her concerns about the four year estrangement from her son, and her opportunity to possibly heal the breach by flying to San Francisco to be near him.

Octavia loves her son and has followed him through the press as his career as a rock star has risen, but doesn't know how to go about re-establishing their relationship.  Even her trip to stand by Milo amid the lurid publicity leaves her uncertain as to whether he will allow her presence in his life.

At first the interspersed chapters of original and revised endings to her novels were frustrating and uncomfortable, but  I found them less intrusive after a while and began to appreciate Octavia's need to revise her relationship with her son and to work through the grief over the loss of her husband and daughter in multiple ways, by first writing the novels and then by applying alternate endings.  Eventually, the frustration I experienced was that there just was too little in the snippets she included...I wanted more of those stories.

There is also an interesting discussion concerning whether or not an author should even consider changing a published novel.

 Beautifully written, imaginative and innovative, The Nobodies Album is complex and multi-layered:  a novel about grief, about self-reflection, about the way individuals search for meaning even where there is none, about the accidents of timing, and about redemption. 

another review:  raidergirl3

Fiction. 2010. 312 pages.


  1. My review of this one is scheduled to go up this coming Tuesday. I enjoyed parts of it, but was disappointed in others.

  2. I'll be looking for your review. :) I think there were a number of people who didn't care for her unusual approach!