Making It Up

Penelope Lively, Author . Viking $24.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-670-03447-5

In this engrossing, perverse challenge to genre—"an anti-memoir"—Booker Award novelist Lively (Moon Tiger , 1987) explores the road not taken. What if her family, evacuating Egypt during WWII, had traveled to South Africa rather than Palestine? What if a date that ended chastely had led to unwed motherhood? What if her husband-to-be had been captured in Korea? What if that other Penelope had taken up with Achilles? What if Lively, who eventually became a writer, had, as a student, gone on an archeological dig? "This book is fiction," Lively warns. The narratives are inventions, rendered by an omniscient voice, framed by brief, evocative autobiographical passages, and peopled by non-Penelopes. Lively achieves "the authenticity of fiction" in their credibility, but she lived none of these alternative lives. Writers and would-be writers will be intrigued to observe the transformation of life into literature. Readers may enjoy wrestling with questions of choice and chance in human affairs, or they may settle for a series of neatly crafted tales. The vividly imagined lives stir up questions far more thought provoking than the simple "what if?" As Lively so elegantly demonstrates, "The paths do not so much fork as flourish." Agent, Emma Sweeny . (On sale Oct. 24)

Reviewed on: 08/15/2005
Release date: 11/01/2005
Paperback - 247 pages - 978-0-14-102119-5
Hardcover - 360 pages - 978-1-59722-140-5
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-670-91579-8
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 224 pages - 978-1-4362-9663-2
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4406-2722-4
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4362-9490-4
Paperback - 215 pages - 978-0-14-303784-2
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