Mrs. Nixon: Book summary and reviews of Mrs. Nixon by Ann Beattie

Mrs. Nixon

A Novelist Imagines a Life

By Ann Beattie

Mrs. Nixon
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2011,
    304 pages.

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Book Summary

Pat Nixon remains one of our most mysterious and intriguing public figures, the only modern First Lady who never wrote a memoir. Beattie, like many of her generation, dismissed Richard Nixon's wife: "interchangeable with a Martian," she said. Decades later, she wonders what it must have been like to be married to such a spectacularly ambitious and catastrophically self-destructive man.

Drawing on a wealth of sources from Life magazine to accounts by Nixon's daughter and his doctor to The Haldeman Diaries and Jonathan Schell's The Time of Illusion, Beattie reconstructs dozens of scenes in an attempt to see the world from Mrs. Nixon's point of view. Like Stephen King's On Writing, this fascinating and intimate account offers readers a rare glimpse into the imagination of a writer.

Beattie, whose fiction Vanity Fair calls "irony-laced reports from the front line of the baby boomers' war with themselves," packs insight and humor into her examination of the First Couple with whom boomers came of age. Mrs. Nixon is a startlingly compelling and revelatory work.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Beattie has created a resplendent paean to the pleasures of the literary imagination, and a riveting and mischievous, revealing and revitalizing portrait of an overlooked woman." - Booklist

"Celebrated short story writer Beattie... juxtaposes a master class on writing fiction with fiction itself... it is obvious how much fun Beattie is having with this project - an ideal book for readers who want to understand process as much as product." - Publishers Weekly

"Self-indulgent though fitfully intriguing." - Kirkus Reviews

"Although Beattie clearly did research, this is not a biography. Nor is it entirely fiction. Nor is it literary criticism, as the publisher's advance copy categorizes it. In other words, it's easy to say what it is not, but as to what it is, readers are certain to be left uncertain. Beattie's real strengths are not evident here. For Beattie completists only." - Library Journal

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Author Information

Ann Beattie Author Biography

Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections and in John Updike's The Best American Short Stories of the Century. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story form. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Key West, Florida, and Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.

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