by Chris Bachelder, Jennifer Habel
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Pub Date 05 Sep 2023 | Archive Date 31 Aug 2023
A startlingly original, incantatory novel about marriage, mortality, and making art.
In the endless days of the pandemic, a woman spends her time sorting fact from fiction in the life and work of Herman Melville. As she delves into Melville’s impulsive purchase of a Massachusetts farmhouse, his fevered revision of Moby-Dick there, his intense friendship with neighbor Nathaniel Hawthorne, and his troubled and troubling marriage to Elizabeth Shaw, she becomes increasingly obsessed by what his devotion to his art reveals about cost, worth, and debt. Her preoccupation both deepens and expands, and her days’ work extends outward to an orbiting cast of Melvillean questers and fanatics, as well as to biographers and writers—among them Elizabeth Hardwick and Robert Lowell—whose lives resonate with Melville’s. As she pulls these distant figures close, her quarantine quest ultimately becomes a midlife reckoning with her own marriage and ambition.
Absorbing, charming, and intimate, Dayswork considers the blurry lines between life and literature, the slippage between what happens and what gets recorded, and the ways we locate ourselves in the lives of others. In wry, epigrammatic prose, Chris Bachelder and Jennifer Habel have crafted an exquisite and daring novel.
About the Authors: Chris Bachelder is the author of four novels, including The Throwback Special, a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Terry Southern Prize for Humor. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Jennifer Habel is the author of the poetry collections Good Reason and The Book of Jane, which won the Iowa Poetry Prize.
"A love letter to literature." - Alexander Chee, author of How to Write an Autobiographical Novel
"Dayswork?is a wonder. I cannot think of another book, another reading experience, entirely like this one. It is suffused with the pleasures of reading, of immersion, of companionship in all its forms." - Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies
"How to describe this deeply moving and entirely original book??Dayswork?is at once a portrait of a marriage, a meditation on art and ambition, a pandemic novel, a middle-age comedy, a brilliant collage of Herman Melville, and a tour de force of collaborative writing. Above all, it is a love story. Out of the most difficult times and unlikely materials, Chris Bachelder and Jennifer Habel have created something that can only be described as extraordinary." - Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum, author of Madeleine is Sleeping
"I was equally charmed and fascinated by?Dayswork, this slender but capacious book about marriage and solitude, about Melville and Hawthorne, about literature and obsession and whether they might not be the same thing. Wry, intimate, and wholly original, the novel surprised me and edified me with every page I eagerly turned." - Jess Walter, author of Beautiful Ruins
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 6 members
Wonderful, wonderful book. Full of great writing, interesting trivia about writing and it’s really, really funny.
If you’re on this web site, you should be reading this book. It’s about creativity, marriage, marriage amongst creative people, Melville, Hawthorne etc.
I loved it.