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Fellow Mortals: A Novel von Dennis Mahoney
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Fellow Mortals: A Novel (2013. Auflage)

von Dennis Mahoney

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693303,898 (3.78)3
"When Henry Cooper sets out on his mail route on Arcadia Street one crisp spring morning, he has no idea that his world is about to change. He is simply enjoying the sunshine as he lights up a cigar and tosses the match to the ground, entirely unaware that he has just started a fire that will destroy a neighborhood and kill a young wife"--Amazon.… (mehr)
Mitglied:hayduke
Titel:Fellow Mortals: A Novel
Autoren:Dennis Mahoney
Info:FSG Originals (2013), Paperback, 288 pages
Sammlungen:Read
Bewertung:****
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Fellow Mortals von Dennis Mahoney

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Henry Cooper is a friendly mail-carrier, in his 40s. He is well liked on the route and on one, fateful, sunny afternoon, everything changes. He decides to light up a cigar, that he finds in his postal vehicle, a vice forbidden to him by his wife and tosses down the match. As he continues walking house to house, he smells smoke...

The careless match causes a fire and several houses are burned, killing a young woman. Henry's life is in ruins and the rest of the novel is the aftermath, as he tries to make peace and amends to the people in the neighborhood. It is a tough, up hill battle. Not an easy read. These are prickly characters but the good ones shine through, just enough, to make it a worthwhile read. ( )
  msf59 | Jun 24, 2016 |
Some roughness at the beginning and a dark near-twist at the end keep the novel from feeling completely organic and well-formed - but for a debut novel, this is quite impressive. It doesn't aspire to much and, as a result, it delivers a magnificent reflection on (to coin a phrase....) our fellow mortals. The struggles, the hopes, the dreams, and the efforts that we all must make every day in order to live with one another. It's funny, it's romantic ( not ooooh, love, flowers, chocolates, etc. romance but rather the sort of romance you find 30 years into a marriage), it's sad - and most of all, it is honest. Makes you want to give thanks and rightly so.

Full review to post on Friday @ RB: http://wp.me/pGVzJ-Rp ( )
  drewsof | Sep 30, 2015 |
The first few pages of this unique novel start off through the eyes of Billy Kane; it wasn't until a few pages in, when Henry Cooper appears on the scene, that I was well and truly drawn in. By throwing a match and a cigar into some dry bushes while on his route, Henry, a mailman, caused a fire that killed a woman, burned down two houses, and damaged two others. Henry is desperate to do everything he can to help the people whose lives he affected: Sam, now a widow; the Finn sisters, whose house was destroyed; the Carmichaels, a family of four; and couple Billy and Sherri Kane. No matter than some of them (Peg Carmichael) want nothing to do with Henry; others accept his help immediately (the Finn sisters, who move in with Henry and his wife while they look for a new place to live).

Of all of the people whose lives the fire affected, Sam Bailey is the one Henry must try hardest to reach. Sam's wife Laura died in the fire, and Sam has retreated into the woods behind their old house, where he builds a cabin and carves trees into sculptures. Henry insists on helping him, and the two develop a relationship that is at first uneasy, but eventually becomes something resembling a friendship.

There are a few additional twists and turns from there, but I don't want to give it away. This is an enclosed novel in terms of place (it does not stretch far from Arcadia Street, where the fire took place, and a few other locations in the town), but the sense of place is keenly developed, and the characters are entirely believable. Innocence and guilt, loss and forgiveness, human decency: the characters wrestle with these throughout. Comparisons to Stewart O'Nan (Songs for the Missing, Last Night at the Lobster) and Leah Hager Cohen (The Grief of Others) are apt.


Quotes:

[The Finns] are weirdly good to Henry - Joan appreciative and childlike, Nan ironclad but temperate - as if he rescued them from something that he hadn't been the cause of. (13)

"Ask Nan. She knows about everything."
Oatmeal cookies, vegetable shortening, ironing, bleaching, fiber, dogs - all of her knowledge slightly out-of-date but basically correct, like one of those old Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedia sets they come across at yard sales. (17)

Sam's eyelids sag. H looks more drained than confrontational, a man who hasn't slept well in weeks, almost too exhausted to sustain a real emotion. (45)

"So I was standing in line behind an old lady with a folder full of soda coupons."
"I know that lady. There must be a thousand of her." (Sam and Ava, 203)

He's a hundred miles off in the center of the web, distant in a way that makes her feel alone. (204)

"So what do we do for Ava?" Sam asks.
"Whatever we think is right." Nan sighs.
"But how do we decide?"
"Sam," Joan says, with an air of disappointment. "How often in your life do you really not know?" (259)

The yellow of the kitchen has a quietness about it, like another lit room from another afternoon, but it's not quite a memory and not quite a wish. It's something either side of what she has now, a sense of having just seen Henry moments earlier, a feeling that he'll pass by the window any second. (277) ( )
  JennyArch | Apr 3, 2013 |
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"When Henry Cooper sets out on his mail route on Arcadia Street one crisp spring morning, he has no idea that his world is about to change. He is simply enjoying the sunshine as he lights up a cigar and tosses the match to the ground, entirely unaware that he has just started a fire that will destroy a neighborhood and kill a young wife"--Amazon.

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