In Body Parts, Krasne returns to the Housatonic River Valley as the central focus of her stories. This time, her tales of and about adults give a broader and deeper picture of a place, its varied inhabitants, and their interactions. The people in her stories may mean well, but not all goes well as they bump up against each other, their pasts, and their present needs.
Set in New England during the 1980s, Krasne’s stories follow well-meaning people whose lives suddenly go in unexpected directions when desire and memory take over. Friends, wives and husbands, children and parents struggle to create a small, safe place of comfort and goodness, but when their bodies lead them astray, the results are touching, surprising, and humorous. Minor characters readers meet in early stories reappear front and center in later stories. As time, place, and events overlap, readers get to know a community, its varied inhabitants, and the lengths to which their wayward passions drive them.
“In Body Parts, Betty Krasne has given us a full, brilliant diagnosis of the human condition, as it is concentrated in a small New England village of locals and weekenders and distilled into individual stories brimming with life, love, desire, and compassion. Body Parts joins a long tradition of American stories about small towns that contain the world.”
—Daniel Menaker, author of My Mistake: A Memoir
“Like her literary forbears, Thorton Wilder and William Faulkner, Betty Krasne’s sketches arise from a single setting—a small Northwestern Connecticut town, nestled in the foothills of the Berkshires. Populated by weekenders, retirees, and townies, by lawyers, academics, plumbers, and house cleaners, these people all know one another well, even sharing each other’s lives. And thanks to Krasne’s strikingly perceptive insights into their concerns, conflicts, and often troubled emotions—insights that jar our recogniton and invite, indeed often insist on, our identification—we too get to know them, and not infrequently, ourselves as well. A richly resonant series of stories we are unlikely to soon forget.
—Joy Gould Boyum, author of Double Exposure: Fiction Into Film
What Readers Are Saying About Body Parts
“Betty’s Krasne’s Lynnfield is a quiet New England town made up of people with different backgrounds jobs, incomes, religions, and ambitions. Her stories show the links between these distinctive individuals as they interact within their families and the community, bringing each to the light like the facets of a revolving polyhedron. From the retired Senator to the ceramist to the lawn guy, each becomes a focus of Krasne’s perceptive observations. Details of intimate married conversations start many of the forays into deeply satisfying truths of ordinary existence. Occasional disruptions of the serenity of the place, like the abused teenager, may have surprising effects; other typical events, like fundraising benefits, may show how townspeople interact without friction. Never wasting words Krasne brings to life some appealing characters and creates a world where varied ages and classes can live together in (relative) harmony.”
“I simply could not put the book down and stayed up into the wee hours until I finished the marvelous linked-stories about a town that is not Kent, but is O so familiar. Now I am a happy reader, but very tired at work.”
“I've finally gotten a chance to look at the published book. It really looks good! The cover is excellent and the typeface very readable. I reread certain parts, and the flow is impressive.”
“I find the characters so well written and defined—Sheila in the first story and Martha in the second. “The First Jewish Burial Society of Lynnfield” clearly shows the relationship between Laura and Elliot and his mother Frieda. I really enjoyed this one.”
“I am loving your stories. Your eye and ear for the local scene excels. Your wry and yet compassionate understanding of the complexities in human relationships is outstanding.”
“Bravo on your fine book! I embraced it with my whole body. Indeed there was such a fine line between the fiction and the facts. It was all so skillfully and intricately interwoven, and it had enough humor and detail to make it flow. With all its histrionics and innuendos, I couldn't put it down. It was certainly a fascinating model of what a well-functioning present-day old New England town could be--even with all its secret layers. Yes, a true personality of a community consciousness.”
“Your stories are so varied - in some, there is an appealing ease between the characters which make the stories move even though the protagonists are not very compatible. Others are interesting in themselves, in the story line. Thanks for the enjoyment I had reading them.”
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