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Recessional
Cover of Recessional
Recessional
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
In this remarkable novel, Pulitzer Prize–winning author James A. Michener draws on his unparalleled gift for storytelling, his deep understanding of American society, and his own life experiences to illuminate the challenges of aging and the folly of youth. As the new director of a Florida retirement home known as the Palms, Andy Zorn suffers no shortage of loving support from his “elders,” a group of five passionate, outspoken residents. Still, Andy’s shortcomings tear him apart. But when he meets an extraordinary young woman who has been forced to rebuild her life after suffering crippling injuries, he finds himself falling in love. And with a few gentle jabs from his more mature friends, he discovers a wonderful new purpose in life.
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from James A. Michener's Hawaii.
 
Praise for Recessional
 
“The best moments in the novel occur when the characters disclose what’s in their hearts and minds with rueful, snappy humor.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Michener hooks you with wonderfully humorous scenes. These are then interwoven between the moments of pain and heartache brought about by life choices we all must make.”Tulsa World
 
“Engaging . . . One will be drawn into the novelist’s world. . . . The lush natural setting provides James Michener plenty to show and tell.”The Washington Times
In this remarkable novel, Pulitzer Prize–winning author James A. Michener draws on his unparalleled gift for storytelling, his deep understanding of American society, and his own life experiences to illuminate the challenges of aging and the folly of youth. As the new director of a Florida retirement home known as the Palms, Andy Zorn suffers no shortage of loving support from his “elders,” a group of five passionate, outspoken residents. Still, Andy’s shortcomings tear him apart. But when he meets an extraordinary young woman who has been forced to rebuild her life after suffering crippling injuries, he finds himself falling in love. And with a few gentle jabs from his more mature friends, he discovers a wonderful new purpose in life.
BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from James A. Michener's Hawaii.
 
Praise for Recessional
 
“The best moments in the novel occur when the characters disclose what’s in their hearts and minds with rueful, snappy humor.”The New York Times Book Review
 
“Michener hooks you with wonderfully humorous scenes. These are then interwoven between the moments of pain and heartache brought about by life choices we all must make.”Tulsa World
 
“Engaging . . . One will be drawn into the novelist’s world. . . . The lush natural setting provides James Michener plenty to show and tell.”The Washington Times
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Excerpts-
  • From the book On the last day of the year, when an icy blizzard shrieked in from Lake Michigan to cover Chicago in a coating of sleet, it struck with particular fury at Boul Mich, the handsome thoroughfare that displays the best of the Windy City. Here stood the enormously rich Art Institute, the great hotels to which Middle America came to participate in metropolitan life; businessmen and -women came to visit banks and centers of commerce, shoppers to patronize the elegant stores, others to enjoy the fine museums.
     
    Michigan Boulevard was the official name of the spacious promenade, but early Chicagoans, deeming their city the equal of any in Europe, had informally christened their major street Boul Mich in the French style, and the name had stuck. In summer the long stretches that faced the lake, with only parkland between the boulevard and the water, seemed almost rural, but on this dark December morning, with the blizzard whipping in, Boul Mich was a formidable place that only the brave dared challenge. Sleet had encrusted everything, its scintillating gleam rivaling that of the jewels on display in the shop windows. It lay so heavy on the boulevard, and was accompanied by such a powerful blast from the lake, that ropes had been strung between poles to enable pedestrians to crawl along without being blown into the storefronts or out into the traffic.
     
    Some hardy men seemed to revel in the hazards of the storm, striding purposefully along as if impervious to the menace underfoot, but even they, when a gust roared in without warning, were quick to grasp at the protective ropes and edge their way along. Women, their coats and dresses whipping about their knees, retreated to the safe streets that ran parallel to Boul Mich but inland from the lake—Wabash, State or Dearborn—where walking became easier with careful navigation of the sleeted pavements.
     
    At half after nine on this wintry morning a slim young man in his middle thirties worked his way carefully southward along Boul Mich. When he tried to negotiate the Monroe cross street he was driven so far to his right that he found himself completely off the boulevard, but with extra effort he worked his way back, relieved to find himself protected by the massive bulk of the Art Institute.
     
    “I never visited you enough,” he apologized to the entrance as he paused to catch his breath, “and now I won’t have the chance. Damn.”
     
    With renewed strength he left the protection of the museum. Pulling the lapels of his overcoat more tightly about his throat, and holding them there with his right hand, he managed to cling to the rope with his left and work his way along the boulevard to Van Buren and then to Congress, where the line of luxury hotels began.
     
    By the time he reached the Sparkman Towers he was so exhausted that he did not enter like a normal guest through the main entrance but allowed the wind to push him through the small side door, the only one kept open during such storms. Safely indoors, he dropped momentarily into an upholstered chair to regain control of his heartbeat and breathing. Taking his pulse as he always did after heavy exertion, he noted with satisfaction: a hundred and ten dropping rapidly to good old eighty. After a few minutes, he felt ready for the crucial meeting he had come for, but before he could find the receptionist, he was accosted by the hotel doorman, who had been sensible enough to move his workstation inside and away from the blizzard.
     
    “Pretty bad out there?” He was a jovial fellow in his fifties, overweight but also overendowed with Irish charm and a winning...
About the Author-
  • James A. Michener was one of the world’s most popular writers, the author of more than forty books of fiction and nonfiction, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Tales of the South Pacific, the bestselling novels The Source, Hawaii, Alaska, Chesapeake, Centennial, Texas, Caribbean, and Caravans, and the memoir The World Is My Home. Michener served on the advisory council to NASA and the International Broadcast Board, which oversees the Voice of America. Among dozens of awards and honors, he received America’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1977, and an award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1983 for his commitment to art in America. Michener died in 1997 at the age of ninety.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 29, 1994
    The veteran author's extended exploration of the world of geriatrics is an up and down affair, alternating inspiring episodes with cliche-ridden narratives. Andy Zorn, a young doctor running from a past scandal, has been hired by geriatric mogul John Taggart to revitalize the Palms, a Tampa retirement community that's fallen into a minor malaise of both profits and morale. Michener sets up his usual labyrinthine sprawl of secondary characters, but what's missing is the unique sense of place that's driven his best works in the past. This time, Michener applies his research to the ravages of old age that plague the Palms' population, but the level of detail often seems unnecessary for the story he's telling. Some episodes and characters are touching: the tale of a seemingly mismatched couple in which the husband cares for the wife after she contracts Alzheimer's; a series of stories about four elder statesmen in the home who conspire to build and fly an airplane; and the saga of a widow who must make some difficult decisions after a biopsy for breast cancer. On the negative side, the romantic subplot between Zorn and a handicapped woman whom he rescues after a car accident reads like fodder for a bad TV movie; the doctor's efforts to provide care for an AIDS patient outside the home have similar problems with realism-the worst offense being a series of passages told from the perspective of a rattlesnake. It's obvious that Michener, who turns 87 this year, finds his subject engaging-but there's not quite enough inspiration here to place this with his top-shelf work. Major ad/promo; Random House Audiobook.

  • The Washington Times

    "The best moments in the novel occur when the characters disclose what's in their hearts and minds with rueful, snappy humor."--The New York Times Book Review "Michener hooks you with wonderfully humorous scenes. These are then interwoven between the moments of pain and heartache brought about by life choices we all must make."--Tulsa World "Engaging . . . One will be drawn into the novelist's world. . . . The lush natural setting provides James Michener plenty to show and tell."

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A Novel
James A. Michener
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