How to Make an American Quilt

Whitney Otto, Author
Whitney Otto, Author Random House Inc $20 (179p) ISBN 978-0-679-40070-7
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-345-37731-9
Paperback - 179 pages - 978-0-345-38896-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 254 pages - 978-0-345-37080-8
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-679-40940-3
Hardcover - 978-0-8161-5338-1
Paperback - 978-0-8161-5365-7
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-17988-1
Prebound-Other - 254 pages - 978-0-613-10138-7
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Imaginative in concept and execution, Otto's remarkable first novel is designed with deliberate analogies to quilt-making; like the scraps of fabric that make up a quilt, a series of neat vignettes cumulatively reveal the lives of eight members of a woman's sewing group in a small California town, in portraits that include their families and neighbors. Moreover, each chapter is followed by a short set of ``Instructions,'' which provide lucid explanations of the histories, designs and techniques of various quilt patterns that reflect and symbolize the conditions of the characters' lives. The instructions also carry a subtext: assemble and stitch a quilt as you would build and sustain a human relationship. The women who form Otto's narrative quilt include two sisters whose love for each other survives sexual betrayal; a fearless teenager who loses her determination to lead a free, unfettered life when she traps herself into marriage; a half-black woman who cannot escape her heritage; a wife who forgives her husband's flagrant affairs. The economically phrased, intricately designed narrative touches on the larger issues of war, prejudice and the economic condition of women. Concluding with a description of the Crazy Quilt, ``the pattern with the least amount of discipline and the greatest measure of emotion,'' this affecting novel demonstrates that a writer's self-discipline can engender in a reader a significant emotional response. First serial to McCall's; Literary Guild alternate; major ad/promo. (Mar.)
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