three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
48-Sept-Oct-2010
user_rating: 
0

A-The Nobodies AlbumCarolyn Parkhurst is the author of the New York Times Notable Book, The Dogs of Babel (2003), and Lost and Found (2006).

The Story: Octavia Frost is a best-selling novelist whose glacial demeanor perfectly matches her last name. She has just completed her latest manuscript, The Nobodies Album, an unorthodox work that compiles the last chapters of her previous novels--but with alternate endings. En route to deliver the manuscript to her publisher, Octavia learns that her estranged son Milo, a rock musician in San Francisco, has been charged with murdering his girlfriend. When Olivia drops everything to help him, she finds herself confronting a painful past that she has worked many years to forget.
Doubleday. 320 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 9780385527699

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"[A]n ingenious, intricately structured story about the power of grief." Diane White

Cleveland Plain Dealer 4 of 5 Stars
"Parkhurst is wildly gifted at depicting such mother-and-child moments, and they lift her entertaining new book above the fray of competing summer titles. ... [A] fun and far-fetched yarn." Karen R. Long

Entertainment Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Excerpts from Frost’s novels punctuate the low-key, introspective murder-mystery narrative, offering a pinhole glimpse into the mind of a fascinating woman for whom life and fiction are stitched tightly together." Keith Staskiewicz

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"Not just a book about a novelist in action, it’s also a meditation on writing itself and on the curious intersections between the imagined world and the real one. ... The Nobodies Album is brisk and engaging, though ultimately it features very little in the way of conventional clues or suspense." Art Taylor

New York Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"Ms. Parkhurst once again proves that she writes with crisp precision but can also make heads spin. ... [She] becomes so involved in creating parallels and coincidences that her once-suspenseful story begins to come unstrung." Janet Maslin

Critical Summary

Carolyn Parkhurst is well known for her original storylines, and The Nobodies Album, with its quirky plot, frequent inclusion of novel excerpts, and literary self-allusions, continues that tradition. As a murder mystery, The Nobodies Album may not appeal to conventional suspense readers. But as a family drama, Parkhurst’s novel offers a compelling look at the effects of grief and the healing power of redemption. Although a few reviewers criticized the multiple coincidences and literary chicanery, most heralded Parkhurst’s latest as worthy read, one deserving of a large, appreciative audience.

Also by the Author

The Dogs of Babel(2003): As a despairing linguist recalls his love for his wife, he attempts to teach his dog--the only witness to his wife’s mysterious death--to speak so that the animal can explain what happened.