Vanessa V. Friedman
September 19, 1997 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Larry's Party Carol Shields

Current Status
In Season
Carol Shields

We gave it a B+

Larry Weller — a symbolic Everyman — was born in the ’50s to a blue-collar Canadian family, became a garden-maze designer, married (and divorced) twice, and fathered one son. This novel shadows him as he navigates the pathways of masculinity and adulthood, using his profession as a metaphor for his biography. Carol Shields — whose last book was the best-seller The Stone Diaries — is an expert at conveying the little details of quotidian experience — Larry’s ”first wife, Dorrie, was a daring eater of apples…gnawing them straight to their economical cores”; but she doesn’t do grief and loss with the same depth. The disintegration of Larry’s marriages is glossed over, and his fear of aging is given more space than his relationship with his son. Ultimately, Larry’s Party is a neater, more resolved affair than life ever is. B+

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