Now Beacon, Now Sea: A Son's Memoir

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6.1 X 9.1 X 1.1 inches | 1.23 pounds

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About the Author

Christopher Sorrentino is the author of six books, including Trance, a National Book Award finalist, and The Fugitives. His work has appeared in Esquire, Harper's Magazine, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Playboy, and many other publications. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, The New School, and Fairleigh Dickinson University. He lives with his family in New York City.


[A] raw and intimate memoir . . . Even at its darkest, this rich narrative shines. --Publishers Weekly

Well-written . . . an unvarnished portrait of a family. --Kirkus Reviews

The mother at the heart of Sorrentino's absolutely compelling memoir represents a generation of women whose lives were based on mystery and chance, on reinvention and the fierce reach for survival. But it's the sharpest shards of detail in her existence that make this so readable--this son's talent for capturing the secret life of a woman once his unreachable light, the beacon, and then the diffuse memory of the sea. --Susan Straight, author of In The Country of Women

Christopher Sorrentino's memoir is an incredibly moving masterpiece. Now Beacon, Now Sea is a coming of age story set in a place whose time was coming to an end as told through the comforting, confounding, and crushing story of Sorrentino's relationship with his mother. I had to reach back to Nabokov's Speak, Memory to find another memoir as powerful and poignant as this one and to find one that as profoundly explores the art of memory. -- David Treuer, author of The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee

"In memoirs by great novelists any distance between those arts shrinks, imagination and testimony lending prose the clarity of an engraving. Put Christopher Sorrentino's accomplishment in Now Beacon, Now Sea with Roth's Patrimony, Schwartz's Leaving Brooklyn, Gornick's Fierce Attachments, Conroy's Stop-Time, books in which the necessity of commanding trauma onto the page has galvanized the language from within." --Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn and The Arrest

As irresistible as it is unflinching, Now Beacon, Now Sea is a family memoir, a literary memoir, an American memoir, a memoir about the nature of identity in our time -- and if that means only Christopher Sorrentino could have written it, for all its singularity it does what riveting memoirs do: reveals not only its own secrets but ours as well. --Steve Erickson, author of Shadowbahn

Few, if any, are the memoirs of mothers and sons that are as excoriating and unforgettable as Christopher Sorrentino's Now Beacon, Now Sea. Written equally in wrath and powerfully and patiently illuminated love, Sorrentino's account of filial anguish will linger long in memory. What an imperative contribution to the memoir form and to our literature generally. I could not admire this book more. --Rick Moody, author of The Ice Storm and The Long Accomplishment

Every genre, every form, has its strengths and weaknesses; the memoir, especially the contemporary American memoir, can fall into a default mode of progress narrative. One of the many accomplishments of Christopher Sorrentino's extraordinary new book is the way in which it refuses to sentimentalize, even slightly, its brutal material. Now Beacon, Now Sea is impressively astringent art.--David Shields, author of The Thing About Life Is That One Day You'll Be Dead and The Trouble With Men