The Nobodies Album

Title: The Nobodies Album

Author:  Carolyn Parkhurst

Publisher: Knopf, June 2010

 Summary: Writer Octavia Frost and her son Milo had a game they used to play together when he was a young boy.  He’d ask “have you ever heard the Beatles version of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad?” And she’d say, no, I didn’t know they’d ever recorded that.  He’d respond “they didn’t, it’s on The Nobodies Album.”  So “The Nobodies Album” is an album made up of songs that don’t exist.  It also happens to be the working title of Octavia’s yet-to-be published book, which is made up entirely of the last chapters of all her previous novels, completely rewritten with the purpose of taking her characters in the exact opposite direction she’d originally taken them – a book made up of endings that don’t exist.

It seems that Octavia is a woman who’s trying to bring many things into existence, and trying to change lots of original endings. Octavia’s relationship with her son and her career as a writer are at the top of the list, and the two are woven together brilliantly in this novel.  It is when Octavia’s on her way to deliver the manuscript of “The Nobodies Album” to her publisher that she sees her son’s name displayed in the news crawl in Times Square – Milo, a successful musician, has been accused of murdering his girlfriend.  This is the beginning of her journey back to Milo – they haven’t spoken in four years.  And it’s also the beginning of the reader’s journey through Octavia’s fiction.  The novel is interspersed with the last chapters of her previous books, both the original and the revised endings.  The family drama, the short story and the classic mystery all come together in Parkhurst’s incredibly creative, inventive and unforgettable book.

Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference

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