Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pg. 99: Amy Shearn's "How Far Is the Ocean from Here"

The current feature at the Page 99 Test: Amy Shearn's How Far Is the Ocean from Here.

About the book, from the publisher:
Susannah Prue is a young, unmarried surrogate mother who, in the days before her delivery date, panics. Jumping into her car, she flees her Chicago home and a few days later pulls up to a bleak motel in the Southwest—the Thunder Lodge. There, she encounters misfits, much like herself, who also carry secrets: the motel’s terse proprietors, their mentally disabled son, and a woman transporting her niece to the father she’s never met. But when the parents of Susannah’s baby discover her whereabouts, she can no longer ignore the profound power she holds over their lives.

Beautifully written, How Far Is the Ocean from Here explores the ways in which people care for one another and the ways in which they fail, the kinds of families we create when we have no one else to turn to, and the strangeness and unpredictability of love.
Among the praise for the novel:
"How Far Is the Ocean From Here is a lyrical storm populated by runaway surrogate mothers, ghost boys, half-girls, haunted caves, desert motels, parents of all stripes, sacred lakes and swimming pools that swirl and collide until finally getting blown together across America's highways into an unforgettable conclusion."
—Samantha Hunt, author of The Invention of Everything Else

“Amy Shearn’s first novel is a hugely auspicious debut. Sentence by sentence, the writing stays sharp and memorable, and the plot slyly takes us on a road-trip that is both frightening and comic. In a culture where hardly anyone knows what parenting is anymore, this novel has a story to tell on the subject, a story that rises incrementally in speed and momentum, from the first page to the last.”
—Charles Baxter, author of Feast of Love

"Tantalizing... Shearn's mesmerizing language and dramatic flair make this first novel a standout."
Washington Post

"[Shearn] has a glorious way with description, conjuring vivid images with brevity and wit... This is an author to read now and to definitely watch in the future."
The Dallas Morning News

“An accomplished and sophisticated affecting portrayal of the lengths people travel for love and companionship.”
Publishers Weekly

"Shearn has a powerful empathy for the lost and the damaged, and she does well by this little family of misfits... a formidable talent."
Kirkus Reviews
Read an excerpt from How Far Is the Ocean from Here, and learn more about the book and author at Amy Shearn's website and the blogs Moonlight Ambulette and Cloud Train.

Amy Shearn's work has appeared in Jane, West Branch, Salt Hill, and elsewhere.

The Page 99 Test: How Far Is the Ocean from Here.

--Marshal Zeringue