Maile Meloy

When Liv and Nora decide to take their husbands and children on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The adults are lulled by the ship’s comfort and ease. The four children—ages six to eleven—love the nonstop buffet and their newfound independence. But when they all go ashore for an adventure in Central America, a series of minor misfortunes and miscalculations leads the families farther from the safety of the ship. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone. 
 
That is the setup for Maile Meloy’s fifth book for adults, “Do Not Become Alarmed,” which details the disintegration of the world the families knew—told from the perspectives of both the adults and the children. The parents, accustomed to security and control, turn on each other and blame themselves, while the seemingly helpless children discover resources they never knew they possessed. 

In his mixed review in the New York Times, critic Dwight Garner writes: “Meloy pokes around in some profound subject matter. This novel returns more than once to the notion that these children are too soft and tame, that their parents have not prepared them properly for the world. Plush first-world lives come in for scrutiny. ‘The karmic bus had mowed her down,’ one of the mothers thinks. ‘She was being punished for living in a false world, spongy and insulated from the reality around her. For living in a house with an alarm system, in a neighborhood where the only Latinos were gardeners and day laborers.’

In his mixed review in the Washington Post, the novelist Charles Finch notes: “At its best moments, “Do Not Become Alarmed,” captures the anxiety of being the kind of parent with the least right to be anxious, a rich American one, the feeling that even our best efforts (the most enormous, cocooning cruise ship!) cannot safeguard us from danger.” 

 Maile Meloy’s Top Ten List

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).
2. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (1967).
3. American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997).
4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955).
5. Nine Stories by J. D. Salinger (1953).
6. The Complete Aubrey/Maturin Novels by Patrick O'Brian (1914-2000).
7. The stories of Flannery O’Connor (1925–64).
8. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh (1945).
9. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke (2004).
10. Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West by Cormac McCarthy (1985).

 Maile Meloy (born 1972) is an American fiction writer. Her celebrated debut, the story collection Half in Love (2002, PEN/Malamud Award), features many stories set in the American west about rugged, yet vulnerable characters who find some clarity in moments of crisis. Her first novel, Liars and Saints (2003, Orange Prize shortlist), explores sex (including statutory rape and incest) and longing, love and loss and deceit through the four generations of the Santerres, a French-Canadian Catholic family living in California. She continued the family’s story in her next novel, A Family Daughter (2006). The title of her next story collection, Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It (2009, New York Times Ten Best Books of the Year List), captures the moral quandary in which she places her characters. Her third novel is titled “Do Not Become Alarmed” (2017).  She has also published two YA novels, The Apothecary (2012, E.B. White Award) and its sequel, The Apprentices (2013). Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Granta and other publications, and she has received The Paris Review’s Aga Khan Prize for Fiction.

New List

Peter Blauner

1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (1877).

2. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (1905).

3. Call It Sleep by Henry Roth (1934).

4. A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes (1957).

5. What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (2003).

6. The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos (1989).

7. Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg.

8. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara (1934).

9. American Pastoral by Philip Roth (1997).

10. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939). 

 

Classic List

Amy Bloom

 

1. The Deptford trilogy by Robertson Davies (1983).
2.Persuasion by Jane Austen (1817).
3. His Dark Materialsby Philip Pullman (1995–2000).
4.The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields (1995).
5.The Known World by Edward P. Jones (2003).
6. The Beggar Maid by Alice Munro (1978).
7. The Plot Against Americaby Philip Roth.
8. The Hours by Michael Cunningham (1998).
9. Fancies and Goodnights by John Collier (1951).
10. Larry’s Party by Carol Shields (1997).

 

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