The Use of Fame (Hardcover)
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Abigail McCormick and Ray Stark are both poets, married nearly twenty-five years in what has always been a passionate relationship despite deep class differences. Ray is the son of West Virginia coal miners and was abused as a child--but now he is a distinguished poet with a part-time position at Brown. Abby grew up in San Francisco's posh Pacific Heights and, having abandoned poetry, she spends her energy on a new teaching position at UC Berkeley. Abby's decision to accept the post sets the stage for Ray to stray, especially as he struggles with a heart condition.
He's tortured by his affair with the graduate student he's fallen in love with, but is determined to stay married--he fights to get over Tory for years. A despairing Abby finds solace in her return to riding horses and writing poems, but as she suffers privately, she becomes dependent on sleeping pills and alcohol. Ray's health worsens--proves nearly fatal--and another cross-country move threatens to push them further apart. Alternating seamlessly between Ray's and Abby's perspectives, The Use of Fame is a gripping exploration of how closeness and despair can warp a lover's perception.
About the Author
Cornelia Nixon is the author of three other novels, Angels Go Naked, Now You See It, and Jarrettsville, as well as a book of literary criticism. She has won two O. Henry Awards (one of them the First Prize in 1995), two Pushcart Prizes, a Nelson Algren Prize, and the Carl Sandburg Award for Fiction. She lives half the year in Berkeley, California, and half on an island in Puget Sound, Washington.