Excerpt from Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Blue Shoe

by Anne Lamott

Blue Shoe
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2002, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2003, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Mattie hadn't worried so much about Ella, who had ways of comforting herself and a generally sunny disposition. But Harry was sad and concerned. He was erratic, like Nicky: sometimes he acted so mean to Mattie and Ella that Mattie wanted to strike him, and at other times he could be utterly charming, especially with his sister. He'd carry her around from room to room as if she were an animated grocery sack, making faces and wisecracks to amuse her. Mattie saw how much he wanted Ella to disappear sometimes, but that he also listened for her when she was in her crib. He put his face right into hers to make her laugh, and she chortled, pleased that something was so grabbably close. Then he'd pinch her and make her cry. He took things from her, and she wailed, while he looked blank and innocent. He hugged her too tightly, he loved her too much, he hated all the same things he loved about her-her ineptitude, her cuteness, her messiness, her smells.

Mattie stopped seeing the therapist, and paid for Harry to go instead.

It helped; time's passing helped. Nothing really helped. And the house--it had been a mistake to move back in. It was falling apart, revealing mold and memories and ghosts. Mattie's beloved father had died of a heart attack in the laundry room, twenty years before. He was fifty-one and had never looked better than in the moments before his death. He had looked a lot like Mattie's brother Al did now, but trimmer, tall, with thicker brown hair, and the huge teeth that hardly fit in his mouth. Everyone had loved her father, including, about half the time, Isa. Still, it had been a miserable marriage, a shifting, malignant lava-lamp of a marriage, although it always looked great from the outside, two tall handsome parents well-known in the town for their willingness to serve on the city council, the school board, liberals who agitated for the poor, who had an air of being with it, hikers in the days when knapsacks were avant-garde. They were people to whom others turned for advice. But inside the house, which they had bought for $20,000 in 1963, slammed doors and loud silences filled the spaces between exquisite meals and good California wine.

Mattie had thought she was getting such a great deal when she moved back in--free rent on a house with a bedroom for each of her children. But it didn't take long to notice the secrets and memories tiptoeing around, holding their highballs, debonair and amused at first, then hissing in the master bedroom as her mother had when her father returned from his monthly trips to Washington, D.C. Harry was now sleeping in the bedroom where Al had grown up, where at fifteen he had started doing drugs while Isa and Alfred pretended he was doing homework; Ella slept in Mattie's old room, the one with the slanted ceiling and eaves, behind which all manner of nightmares had waited quietly.

The laundry room where her father had died looked almost exactly the same as before, with its old washer-dryer from Sears, lots of sunlight and trees outside the window, and space to move around. Isa had spent hours here, pawing through her husband's clothes, looking for clues to his absences, searching her teenage son's pockets. What did she think she would find-needles, bindles, a treasure map? She'd searched her daughter's clothes here too, for cigarettes and birth control pills, which she'd found and seized like a customs inspector.

Why, in the current crisis of divorce and bottomless loss, had Mattie run back to the past, to her parents' home, her husband's side of the bed? She hadn't known where else to go. It was free and it was familiar.

"Where else can I go? Nicky owned that house before we got married. It's his. Otherwise, he doesn't have much money, I don't make much. He'll help us, but I can't afford to rent anything as nice as this. With a yard."

From Blue Shoe by Anne Lamott, Copyright © October 2002, Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Putnam, Inc., used by permission.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Here I Am
    Here I Am
    by Jonathan Safran Foer
    With almost all the accoutrements of upper middle-class suburban life, Julia and Jacob Bloch fit the...
  • Book Jacket: Harmony
    Harmony
    by Carolyn Parkhurst
    In previous novels such as The Dogs of Babel and Lost and Found, Carolyn Parkhurst has shown herself...
  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Darling Days
    by iO Tillett Wright

    A devastatingly powerful memoir of one young woman's extraordinary coming of age.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.