About Schmidt: A Novel
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Random House Publishing Group 2010
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As he tries to make his life habitable again--after the devastating loss of his wife--retired lawyer Albert Schmidt finds the possibility of regeneration in a new love the old "Schmidtie" would never have dreamt of. Set in the Hamptons and Mahnattan, and laced with black humor, About Schmidt casts a cold, pitiless eye on the eastern seaboard upper class, the last vestiges of once-ascendant WASPs, and the newcomers whose fortunes are rising.BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Louis Begley's Memories of a Marriage.

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Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
12/15/2010
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307760074
ASIN:
B004EPYWDI
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Jun 12, 2018 15:53:33
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      • role: Author
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      • bioText:

        Louis Begley is the author of four novels. Wartime Lies, which was written when he was in his mid-fifties, was followed by The Man Who Was Late, As Max Saw It, and About Schmidt. He is currently finishing a fifth novel. Begley has another life, that of a lawyer. He is a senior partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, one of America's most prestigious firms, and is the head of its international practice.

        Wartime Lies was the winner of the PEN Hemingway Award, The Irish Times Aer Lingus International Prize, and the Prix Medicis Etranger, France's most coveted prize for fiction in translation. It was a National Book Award, Los Angeles Times Book Award, and National Book Critics' Circle Award finalist. About Schmidt was likewise a National Book Critics' Circle Award and Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist. Begley has received the American Academy of Letters prize for literature and numerous other awards.

        Begley was born in Stryj, a town that was Polish and is now part of Ukraine, in 1933. Being Jewish, he survived the German occupation by pretending, with the help of false identification papers, to be a Catholic Pole.

        Begley and his parents left Poland in 1946 and settled in New York in 1947. Begley graduated from Harvard College in 1954, and after having served in the U.S. army, from Harvard Law School in 1959.

        Since 1974, Begley has been married to Anka Muhlstein, a prize-winning French author of biographies and other historical works. The combined family includes five grown children. His are a painter and sculptor, a book critic, and an art historian. Hers are a foreign relations specialist and a television journalist.

      • name: Louis Begley
imprint
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publishDate
2010-12-15T00:00:00-05:00
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title
About Schmidt
fullDescription

As he tries to make his life habitable again--after the devastating loss of his wife--retired lawyer Albert Schmidt finds the possibility of regeneration in a new love the old "Schmidtie" would never have dreamt of. Set in the Hamptons and Mahnattan, and laced with black humor, About Schmidt casts a cold, pitiless eye on the eastern seaboard upper class, the last vestiges of once-ascendant WASPs, and the newcomers whose fortunes are rising.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Louis Begley's Memories of a Marriage.

reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Review of Books
      • content:

        "Novels are supposed to tell something about the real world, but in mostnovels about the upper classes money figures only in the decor, the thingsthat money can buy. Begley's books have the great virtue of knowing aboutmoney itself, how it's acquired and kept.... Begley's previous booksgravitated rather anxiously toward Europe, which was seen as the sourceboth of any satisfactory culture and of appalling historical and personaltragedy. About Schmidt turns toward America and the present, exchanging aninterest in suffering and failure, with its dangerous possibilities ofself-magnification, for comic romance, with its emphasis not on finalitybut on life going on anyway."

      • premium: False
      • source: Newsday
      • content: "Albert Schmidt is another of Begley's brilliant impostors, though thistime an impostor unaware of his charade. He is the cultivated man--out ofHarvard, no less--unable to acknowledge his subtle strain ofJew-hating.... About Schmidt amounts to an intriguing about-face forBegley.... By blinding his flawed hero, Begley has painted an indelibleportrait of a man with a hole where his soul should be."
      • premium: False
      • source: San Francisco Chronicle
      • content: "What emerges... is a poignant study of aging centered on a man whoseflaws become both sinister and sympathetic. In an era of encroachingcoarseness, where civility dissolves... Schmidt summons in us remembranceof elegance past.... Is he a cultured patrician, a supercilious snob orboth? Whichever he is, Begley succeeds wonderfully in making us care."
      • premium: False
      • source: The New York Times Book Review
      • content: "Consistently subtle and intelligent, this novel ends by getting underyour skin despite the unlikability of its protagonist. You are left withthe feeling of having found out the complex truth behind the impeccablefacade of someone you might never notice if you met him at a party."
      • premium: False
      • source: Washington Post/Book World
      • content: "If the sorrows of old 'Schmidtie' strike us as somewhat short of fullytragic, less than deeply moving, it's clearly intentional; Begley meansfor us to keep our distance--to withhold our sympathies--from his smug,officious hero.... It's this that makes Begley's novel most interestingand nervy."
      • premium: False
      • source: Los Angeles Times Book Review
      • content: "In the end, Begley has created a terribly funny, touching, infuriatingand complex character in Schmidt, whose self-deceptions and imprisonmentby his own world-view stand not only as a devastating portrait of adisappearing world but also sound a strangely evocative cautionary tale."
      • premium: False
      • source: Time
      • content: "In what could be called a novel of bad manners, Begley again demonstratesthat he can reveal the complexities of society and personality with aclear eye and graceful style. Schmidt may not live up to today's strictstandards of political correctness, but he more than meets therequirements of convincing fiction."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from September 2, 1996
        Both Auchincloss's sophisticated comedies of WASP manners and the terrain mapped in Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day come to mind as comparisons for Begley's new novel, but his discerning intellect and lapidary prose distinguish this powerful story of a man whose fall from grace has a double-edged irony. Albert Schmidt retired from his job in a white-shoe New York law office during his wife's terminal illness. In his 60s, he lives in her magnificent family home in the exclusive Long Island community of Bridgehampton, where he makes sardonic observations about those who betray his archaic values and rigid social standards. The most egregious traitor is his beautiful, brilliant (i.e., Harvard summa cum laude) daughter, Charlotte, whose decision to marry a blatantly ambitious Jewish lawyer is a bitter blow to Schmidt--although he remains outwardly civil. Schmidt has no idea that his cool, remote behavior has alienated Charlotte, that she is aware of the veiled anti-Semitism he himself denies and that her new family, which Schmidt thinks vulgar, offers the warmth and human contact he has never provided. With sublime, delicious irony, Begley shows Schmidt's bizarre metamorphosis from a pillar of rectitude to a silly old fool; a Puerto Rican waitress younger than Charlotte is the instrument of Schmidt's descent down the primrose path. Taking advantage of Schmidt's loneliness, streetwise Carrie uses her sexual wiles to move herself and her drug-dealing boyfriend into his house and life. Begley guides the narrative with smooth aplomb and dry humor, providing a wealth of acutely observed social detail and a clear depiction of emotional dysfunction. Though his classic Holocaust novel, Wartime Lies, is a standard Begley can't improve upon, this elegant, sophisticated novel is another study in self-deception that confirms his reputation as a masterful literary novelist.

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As he tries to make his life habitable again--after the devastating loss of his wife--retired lawyer Albert Schmidt finds the possibility of regeneration in a new love the old "Schmidtie" would never have dreamt of. Set in the Hamptons and Mahnattan, and laced with black humor, About Schmidt casts a cold, pitiless eye on the eastern seaboard upper class, the last vestiges of once-ascendant WASPs, and the newcomers whose fortunes are rising.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Louis Begley's Memories of a Marriage.

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Random House Publishing Group