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Off Keck Road


Off Keck Road

Mona Simpson, who has brought us the wondrously moving and compelling stories behind ANYWHERE BUT HERE, THE LOST FATHER, and A REGULAR GUY, now writes OFF KECK ROAD, a short but touching story about everyday people who turn to their homesteads and go back after being out in the world for a while --- not the usual travelers and searchers that her other books are all about. OFF KECK ROAD, a small, somewhat used-up Wisconsin suburb, is not an exciting place to live but it offers a certain haven for characters who have been hurt by life in the world-at-large. It is her simplest and perhaps most impressive book.

Bea Maxwell, daughter of one of Green Bay's leading families, befriends a ragtag group of residents when she returns home from trying to make a life for herself in Chicago. Called back due to her mother's illness, Bea returns to the place where she was something of an anomaly --- the peppy high school leader who barely had time for boys and all the other ruffles and frills the other high school girls enjoyed: "It was as if adolescence --- that new word that everyone all of a sudden knew --- was a contagion Bea somehow had not caught. She agreed with her reasonable parents that dieting yourself half to death was dangerous. She found high heels ridiculous. She ate casseroles and desserts with the abandon of a ten-year-old boy." Even after an affair is suggested to her, Bea, always the virgin, keeps her heart locked away and her virtue sacrosanct. It defines her in a way that nothing else does.

In the midst of the town, there is nothing but gossipy old ladies and, on the other side, Bea and her strange friends --- divorcees, priests, philandering husbands. But the life she leads with these cohorts is as fulfilling as any other might have been, especially for the tiny suburb to which she has returned --- a world that harkens back to the world of The Music Man, a world where being different is considered a threat to the way of life of the rest of the people who have always lived there and never left at all. OFF KECK ROAD packs a powerful wallop into 167 pages --- a paean to those who live their own lives in their own way and are happy with that. Isn't that what everybody wants anyway? A lovely book.


Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on October 17, 2000

Off Keck Road
by Mona Simpson

  • Publication Date: October 17, 2000
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf
  • ISBN-10: 0375410104
  • ISBN-13: 9780375410109