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The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs: A Novel
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St. Martin's Publishing Group 2017
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Winner of the Library of Virginia's Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction!
"A brilliantly moving and unforgettable novel." - Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life

Janet Peery's first novel, The River Beyond the World, was a National Book Award finalist in 1996. Acclaimed for her gorgeous writing and clear-eyed gaze into the hearts of people, Peery now returns with her second novel, The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs.
On a summer evening in the blue-collar town of Amicus, Kansas, the Campbell family gathers for a birthday dinner for their ailing patriarch, retired judge Abel Campbell, prepared and hosted by their still-hale mother Hattie. But when Billy, the youngest sibling—with a history of addiction, grand ideas, and misdemeanors—passes out in his devil's food cake, the family takes up the unfinished business of Billy's sobriety.
Billy's wayward adventures have too long consumed their lives, in particular Hattie's, who has enabled his transgressions while trying to save him from Abel's disappointment. As the older children—Doro, Jesse, ClairBell, and Gideon—contend with their own troubles, they compete for the approval of the elderly parents they adore, but can't quite forgive.
With knowing humor and sure-handed storytelling, Janet Peery reveals a family at its best and worst, with old wounds and new, its fractures and feuds, and yet its unbreakable bonds.

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Street Date:
09/19/2017
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781250125095
ASIN:
B06XC4MKSH
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APA Citation (style guide)

Janet Peery. (2017). The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs: A Novel. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Janet Peery. 2017. The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs: A Novel. St. Martin's Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Janet Peery, The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs: A Novel. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2017.

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Janet Peery. The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs: A Novel. St. Martin's Publishing Group, 2017.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Janet Peery is the author of Alligator Dance (stories), What the Thunder Said (a novella and stories), and the novel The River Beyond the World, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has received numerous honors for her fiction including the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Whiting Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts, among others. She lives in Cape Charles, Virginia.
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fullDescription

Winner of the Library of Virginia's Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction!
"A brilliantly moving and unforgettable novel." - Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life

Janet Peery's first novel, The River Beyond the World, was a National Book Award finalist in 1996. Acclaimed for her gorgeous writing and clear-eyed gaze into the hearts of people, Peery now returns with her second novel, The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs.
On a summer evening in the blue-collar town of Amicus, Kansas, the Campbell family gathers for a birthday dinner for their ailing patriarch, retired judge Abel Campbell, prepared and hosted by their still-hale mother Hattie. But when Billy, the youngest sibling—with a history of addiction, grand ideas, and misdemeanors—passes out in his devil's food cake, the family takes up the unfinished business of Billy's sobriety.
Billy's wayward adventures have too long consumed their lives, in particular Hattie's, who has enabled his transgressions while trying to save him from Abel's disappointment. As the older children—Doro, Jesse, ClairBell, and Gideon—contend with their own troubles, they compete for the approval of the elderly parents they adore, but can't quite forgive.
With knowing humor and sure-handed storytelling, Janet Peery reveals a family at its best and worst, with old wounds and new, its fractures and feuds, and yet its unbreakable bonds.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        "Peery's insightful writing turns a happily-ever-after conclusion into appreciation for the serenity of acceptance and steadfastness."

      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus
      • content: "A tender - if not altogether surprising - family portrait with generous heart. Ultimately satisfying, a quiet novel with lingering warmth."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: "A powerful new novel...Potent and memorable."
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Independent Review of Books
      • content: "An honest portrait of a complicated family...The author deftly reveals the innermost thoughts of seven separate characters [with] pitch-perfect prose."
      • premium: False
      • source: Antonya Nelson, author of Talking in Bed and Funny Once
      • content: "It's rare to find a book that so mercilessly, and beautifully, and honestly concerns itself with middle-aged life. With the tender, enduring, fraught relationships among aging siblings and their even more aged parents. Janet Peery is a magnificent sentence-maker and a faithful reporter of the human condition as it regards this large and flawed and recognizable -- so recognizable -- midwestern family. I will gift everyone I know with a copy of The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs, just because it has such important confirmation to bestow upon us."
      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        July 15, 2017
        A good-humored meditation on regret and forgiveness, Peery's latest (What the Thunder Said, 2007, etc.) follows the aging Campbell family, a clan as tightknit as it is troubled.Hattie and Abel have spent the entirety of their marriage in Amicus, Kansas, a "haphazard" town that has treated them well despite the seemingly endless struggles of their six adult children: public intoxication, drug offenses, DUIs, foreclosures, divorces. But while "the trouble she and Abel endured with all but one of their six offspring was almost biblical," it is clear to Hattie that the "felling blow would be dealt by Billy, the baby, now in his middle 40s and wearing every misspent year." And so it comes to pass. At Abel's 89th birthday party, it is Billy--charming, drug-addicted, his mother's favorite--who falls asleep at the table in a plate of devil's food cake, causing the family to once again confront the question long haunting the family: how do you solve a problem like the youngest Campbell child? What follows is a novel of family dynamics, driven less by plot than by the passage of one difficult year. Billy's current crisis--the culmination of years of crises--becomes a unifying force, pulling the family closer together even as it exposes the rifts between them, the long-simmering resentments and the personal failures. And at the center of it all, with her children swirling around her, is Hattie, torn, as always, between her love for her husband and her devotion to her favorite child. A slow burn of a book, the novel takes time to build up steam, but the result is a tender--if not altogether surprising--family portrait with generous heart. Ultimately satisfying, a quiet novel with lingering warmth.

        COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        August 7, 2017
        In Peery’s powerful new novel, Amicus, Kansas, a prairie town grown so helter-skelter that “it looked like it had been laid out by rival drunks,” reminds 88-year-old Hattie Campbell of her family: her husband, Abel, and their large brood—one long dead, the others struggling with addiction and incapable of sustaining long-term healthy relationships. The tendency toward shiftlessness in all but the oldest child (Doro, who lives respectably in Boston) is most pronounced in the youngest, Billy: middle-aged addict, long-time HIV sufferer, and “a showboat with flags and bunting unfurled.” Despite being a bit of a showboat himself, Abel cannot tolerate Billy’s flamboyance, not to mention “the way he went through money. And his froufrou French. And the way his mother doted on him,” so Hattie overcompensates, enabling Billy even more and doing her best to shield her irresponsible son from her husband. The story itself isn’t plot-heavy; rather, it moves forward in the nudges Peery gives her characters to reveal themselves, to interact and illuminate the dysfunction of their aging, dying family. This is a potent and memorable novel.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        August 1, 2017
        We meet the Campbell clan as they gather for the patriarch Abel's eighty-ninth birthday. As Peery (What the Thunder Said, 2007) tells the stories past and present about Abel, Hattie, and their five adult children, we see them dealing with addiction and aging, death and dysfunction. In the family's tug-of-war between coping and enabling, we also see a lyrical exploration of marriage and family. Abel's forceful personality and remarkable intellect have been the boon and bane of this family as everyone tries to win his approval. Doro, the oldest daughter, is the only one who seems to have escaped the trap of self-destructive choices as she created a life for herself in Boston. Underlying the details of the youngest son fighting AIDS and drug addiction, sibling rivalries, and a mother and wife struggling with her roles, Peery explores the nature of familial bonds. We see the bridges these characters build between seemingly irreconcilable differences while holding the family together. Peery's insightful writing turns a happily-ever-after conclusion into appreciation for the serenity of acceptance and steadfastness.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        April 1, 2017

        A National Book Award finalist in 1996 for her debut novel, The River Beyond the World, Peery has kept us waiting a long time for her second novel. It's perceptive domestic drama set in blue-collar Amicus, KS, where town judge Abel Campbell is celebrating his birthday with his family when ne'er-do-well youngest son Billy passes out in a plate of birthday cake. Time for the family to confront his addictive and generally destructive behavior, enabled by his mother, which has absorbed too much of their lives. In-house buzz.

        Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription

Winner of the Library of Virginia's Emyl Jenkins Sexton Literary Award for Fiction!
"A brilliantly moving and unforgettable novel." - Jill McCorkle, author of Life After Life

Janet Peery's first novel, The River Beyond the World, was a National Book Award finalist in 1996. Acclaimed for her gorgeous writing and clear-eyed gaze into the hearts of people, Peery now returns with her second novel, The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs.
On a summer evening in the blue-collar town of Amicus, Kansas, the Campbell family gathers for a birthday dinner for their ailing patriarch, retired judge Abel Campbell, prepared and hosted by their still-hale mother Hattie. But when Billy, the youngest sibling—with a history of addiction, grand ideas, and misdemeanors—passes out in his devil's food cake, the family takes up the unfinished business of Billy's sobriety.
Billy's wayward adventures have too long consumed their lives, in particular Hattie's,...

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