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Act of God: A Novel
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2015
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Jill Ciment’s books have been hailed as “stunning,” “powerful,” and “provocative.” Alice Sebold has called her works “beautifully written.” Now the author of Heroic Measures (“Smart and funny and completely surprising . . . I loved every page.” —Ann Patchett; “Brave, generous, nearly perfect.” —Los Angeles Times) has given us a contemporary noir novel that starts out a comedy of errors and turns darker at every hairpin turn.   It’s the summer of 2015, Brooklyn. The city is sweltering from another record-breaking heat wave, this one accompanied by biblical rains. Edith, a recently retired legal librarian, and her identical twin sister, Kat, a feckless romantic who’s mistaken her own eccentricity for originality, discover something ominous in their hall closet: it seems to be phosphorescent, it’s a mushroom . . . and it’s sprouting from their wall.   Upstairs, their landlady, Vida Cebu, a Shakespearian actress far more famous for her TV commercials for Ziberax (the first female sexual enhancement pill) than for her stage work, discovers that a petite Russian girl, a runaway au pair, has been secretly living in her guest room closet. When the police arrest the intruder, they find a second mushroom, also glowing, under the intruder’s bedding. Soon the HAZMAT squad arrives, and the four women are forced to evacuate the contaminated row house with only the clothes on their backs.   As the mold infestation spreads from row house to high-rise, and frightened, bewildered New Yorkers wait out this plague (is it an act of God?) on their city and property, the four women become caught up in a centrifugal nightmare.   Part horror story, part screwball comedy, Jill Ciment’s brilliant suspense novel looks at what happens when our lives—so seemingly set and ordered yet so precariously balanced—break down in the wake of calamity. It is, as well, a novel about love (familial and profound) and how it can appear from the most unlikely circumstances.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/03/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307911711
ASIN:
B00N6PBGTU
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Jill Ciment. (2015). Act of God: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Jill Ciment. 2015. Act of God: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Jill Ciment, Act of God: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Jill Ciment. Act of God: A Novel. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. 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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      • role: Author
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      • bioText: JILL CIMENT was born in Montreal, Canada. She is the author of Small Claims, a collection of short stories and novellas; the novels The Law of Falling Bodies, Teeth of the Dog, The Tattoo Artist, and Heroic Measures; and a memoir, Half a Life. She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards, among them a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, two New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, and a Guggenheim fellowship. Ciment is a professor at the University of Florida. She lives in Gainesville, Florida, and Brooklyn, New York.

      • name: Jill Ciment
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Vintage
publishDate
2015-03-03T00:00:00-05:00
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title
Act of God
fullDescription
Jill Ciment’s books have been hailed as “stunning,” “powerful,” and “provocative.” Alice Sebold has called her works “beautifully written.” Now the author of Heroic Measures (“Smart and funny and completely surprising . . . I loved every page.” —Ann Patchett; “Brave, generous, nearly perfect.” —Los Angeles Times) has given us a contemporary noir novel that starts out a comedy of errors and turns darker at every hairpin turn.
 
It’s the summer of 2015, Brooklyn. The city is sweltering from another record-breaking heat wave, this one accompanied by biblical rains. Edith, a recently retired legal librarian, and her identical twin sister, Kat, a feckless romantic who’s mistaken her own eccentricity for originality, discover something ominous in their hall closet: it seems to be phosphorescent, it’s a mushroom . . . and it’s sprouting from their wall.
 
Upstairs, their landlady, Vida Cebu, a Shakespearian actress far more famous for her TV commercials for Ziberax (the first female sexual enhancement pill) than for her stage work, discovers that a petite Russian girl, a runaway au pair, has been secretly living in her guest room closet. When the police arrest the intruder, they find a second mushroom, also glowing, under the intruder’s bedding. Soon the HAZMAT squad arrives, and the four women are forced to evacuate the contaminated row house with only the clothes on their backs.
 
As the mold infestation spreads from row house to high-rise, and frightened, bewildered New Yorkers wait out this plague (is it an act of God?) on their city and property, the four women become caught up in a centrifugal nightmare.
 
Part horror story, part screwball comedy, Jill Ciment’s brilliant suspense novel looks at what happens when our lives—so seemingly set and ordered yet so precariously balanced—break down in the wake of calamity. It is, as well, a novel about love (familial and profound) and how it can appear from the most unlikely circumstances.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Kathleen Gerard, Shelf Awareness (Starred Review)
      • content: "Rich, quirky characterizations, witty insights into human nature and cruel twists of fate turn the initial absurdity of the narrative into a profound, suspenseful story . . . thoroughly entertaining and unforgettable."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        January 19, 2015
        Following Heroic Measures, a chronicle of a city and its housing market in turmoil, Ciment returns with another real estate–themed drama. This latest, however, lacks her previous novel’s tautness and charm. When luminescent spores appear in a Brooklyn townhouse, its inhabitants scatter across New York City and must deal with the life-altering effects of the dangerous mold outbreak. The affected residents include the 64-year-old twin sisters, Kat and Edith: the former a free spirit, the latter a sober and recently retired legal librarian. Above their rent-controlled apartment lives Vida Sebu, owner of the spore-infested townhouse and an actress who is struggling to be taken seriously after appearing in a commercial for a female sexual-enhancement pill. Along with the mold, the brownstone has another intruder: Ashley, a Russian nanny who’s been squatting in Vida’s closet and who responds to the infestation with a Slavic stoicism: “No big deal. In Russia, mushrooms grow out people’s ears.” The insurance company classifies the infestation as an act of God, which fails to satisfy those seeking a less-divine agent behind the catastrophes that follow. Ciment writes with her usual stylistic grace, but the novel doesn’t quite achieve a balance among its vaguely apocalyptic bent, its satirical moments, and the tepid sentimentalism at its core.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from December 1, 2014
        Humanity, warmth and wry humor light up Ciment's (Heroic Measures, 2009, etc.) noirish novel about a phosphorescent toxic mold that blooms in a Brooklyn townhouse, circa 2015, and barrels through the lives of two 60-something identical twin sisters and their neighbors, changing everything it touches. When 64-year-old twins Edith and Kat Glasser find a glowing mushroom growing in a closet in their late mother's rent-controlled apartment, a home they now share after having spent years engaged in very different pursuits, they are united in their alarm. Will the iridescent fungus-which, in mere moments, grows from "the size of a newborn's thumb" to that of a giant's digit-infect their beloved mother's archive of letters from her hugely popular syndicated advice column, "Consultations with Dr. Mimi"? After all, Edith, a retired legal librarian, stolid and stable, has arranged to have the letters sent to the Smithsonian the following month, and feckless, free-spirited Kat is compiling her favorites in hopes of getting a book deal "to give the enterprise a little pizzazz." But their calls to their reluctant landlord, famous (or is it infamous?) actress Vida Cebu, go unanswered, and the mysterious mold spreads-and spreads-in time helped along, as well, by the homeless Russian teen who had been living in Vida's closet when it was discovered there. The virulent fungus, not to mention the hazmat team's response, lays waste to buildings, careers, reputations and even lives. But from the wreckage of the past sprouts new hopes and second chances-an opportunity for personal growth, a deeper sense of identity and community, generosity and belonging...and love. This absorbing novel about a luminescent fungus affixes itself to your psyche like a spore and quickly spreads to your heart, setting everything in its wake aglow.

        COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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

        November 15, 2014

        In this latest from the author of Heroic Measures (2010), a toxic mold upends the lives of the disparate residents of a New York townhouse. Twin sisters Kat and Edith are preparing an archive of their mother's advice column when they discover a glowing mushroom in their closet. Their landlady, Vida, an actress whose pharmaceutical commercial is hurting her stage career, fails to take action until the building is evacuated and condemned, which means Ashley, a young Russian immigrant who was squatting in Vida's apartment, must find alternate living arrangements. Unwittingly, the women continue to spread the contamination throughout the city. An interesting mix of fable and contemporary realism, this novel shows how quickly one can lose everything--home, family, possessions--and be cast adrift. At the same time, the characters become dependent on one another in unexpected and unusual ways and can survive only through these connections. VERDICT This quick read is generally humorous and lighthearted in tone, despite the trauma it conveys. Though guilty of some nasty and unethical behavior, all the characters are able to achieve redemption by the end, which Ciment manages to achieve with minimal sappiness.--Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis

        Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        February 1, 2015
        Ciment impishly satirized Manhattan life in Heroic Measures (2009). In her second New York fable of iridescent wit and bemused tenderness, twin sisters are, once again, living together in the rent-controlled Brooklyn apartment of their childhood, much to the annoyance of the brownstone's new owner, Vida, a Shakespearean actress now notorious for appearing in a commercial for the first female sexual enhancement pill. The twins' mother was an adored advice columnist, and Edith, a retired legal librarian, is preparing to donate their mother's papers to the Smithsonian, while Kat, a former Deadhead, wants to publish a collection of the letters. But the sisters discover a phosphorescent mushroom rapidly growing in one closet, and Vida finds a fugitive Russian au pair hiding in another, and both are big trouble. The eerily glowing supermold infests the entire neighborhood, and the four women, each irresistible in her own heartbreaking way, are left homeless. In a feat of literary magic, Ciment slips an abundance of suspenseful action, incisive humor, far-ranging wisdom, and complex emotion into this inventive, caring, devour-all-at-once novel of self, family, community, and doing right.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

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Jill Ciment's books have been hailed as "stunning," "powerful," and "provocative." Alice Sebold has called her works "beautifully written." Now the author of Heroic Measures ("Smart and funny and completely surprising . . . I loved every page." --Ann Patchett; "Brave, generous, nearly perfect." --Los Angeles Times) has given us a contemporary noir novel that starts out a comedy of errors and turns darker at every hairpin turn.

It's the summer of 2015, Brooklyn. The city is sweltering from another record-breaking heat wave, this one accompanied by biblical rains. Edith, a recently retired legal librarian, and her identical twin sister, Kat, a feckless romantic who's mistaken her own eccentricity for originality, discover something ominous in their hall closet: it seems to be phosphorescent, it's a mushroom . . . and it's sprouting from their wall.

Upstairs, their landlady, Vida Cebu, a Shakespearian actress far more famous for her TV commercials...
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