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Literary Classic Review    

 

 

Malaise
By Nancy Lemann
Voices of the South series
LSU Press, 2004
Trade paper, $17.95 (253 pages)
ISBN: 0-8071-2967-4
 
 
 

In Malaise, Nancy Lemann captures the ennui and lack of inertia of hot summer days, whether they be in the deep south or the California desert. 

Fleming Ford, an Alabama native, wife, and mother of two, has just moved from New York to southern California. Her geologist husband has the opportunity to search for water in the Mojave Desert and their relocation seems to come at a good time since Fleming is forty (and, by implication, still capable of adapting to a new environment) and pregnant for the third time. 

When her former boss, Mr. Lieberman, invites her to lunch, his presence offers comfort and familiarity, stirring up nostalgic feelings. Lieberman, who is in his seventies, is a recent widower. The two shared a sense of exile -- Fleming misses her much beloved Gulf Coast and Lieberman misses England. His Old World charm reminds her of the men from her childhood. Whether or not they cross the line into adulterous territory is secondary, Fleming and Mr. Lieberman are bound by longing and a poignant quest for genuine communication.  

Lemann's writing is insightful and wry. 

The author of four novels -- including Lives of the Saints and Sportsmanís Paradise -- Lemann lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She was born and reared in New Orleans and has lived in New York and San Diego. Her work has appeared in Esquire, The New Republic, and Paris Review. 

 
Pam Kingsbury
Southern Scribe Reviews

 

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