Richard Seltzer's home page  Publishing home


71,790 words

Literary Fiction, Magic Realism


The lives of Ruth and Mark are punctuated by the two times they invoke nevermind, hand-me-down magic that Ruth learned from her mother, that can undo what has been done and alter the shape of reality. They fall in love twice, once in their early 20s,; and for the second time, on a world cruise, when they are 70.


When they first meet, during World War II, both Ruth and Mark are sheltered, naive, and repressed. Ruth -- her mother dead and her father in prison, raised  by unmarried aunts and haunted by the lies she has been taught to tell -- distrusts all men. Mark, a GI away from home for the first time, raised in a male-dominated household, is tempted by worldly-wise women while seeking the perfect innocent wife. Their on-again off-again romance, among the contingencies of wartime America, forces them to grow up quickly.


Their marriage falls apart when they lose their four-month old son, Davey, on a transcontinental train. They blame one another and divorce. Then, separately, they each invoke nevermind, which solves their immediate problem -- Davey -- but leads to unintended consequences. Each finds Davey and doesn't tell the other, to avoid custody battles. Each raises him separately, in parallel similar worlds.  


Ruth finds her father, who, in this world, is loving and caring, with a very different past. And after she is widowed from a loveless second marriage, she evolves to become a sex therapist known as "The Love Granny" and author of an unpublished autobiographical novel, "Well-Meaning Lies. Meanwhile Mark writes a successful series of books about the role of lies in American history.


Their separate worlds become entangled when, after they have changed so much that, at first, they don't recognize one another, they meet again, 40 years later and fall in love again. Learning that they each have Davey and that other aspects of their life stories conflict, Mark and Ruth invoke nevermind once again, this time together, hoping to avert disaster and leading to yet another world -- their happily-ever-after.


Comparables --

Counterlife by Philip Roth

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday

The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Garp by John Irving


Richard Seltzer's home page  Publishing home  privacy statement