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Abbott Awaits

A Novel

Yellow Shoe Fiction

192 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / no illustrations

ebook available

Fiction

  Paperback / 9780807137222 / March 2011

A quiet tour de force, Chris Bachelder's Abbott Awaits transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary, startlingly depicting the intense and poignant challenges of a vulnerable, imaginative father as he lives his everyday American existence.

In Abbott we see a modern-day Sisyphus: he is the exhausted father of a lively two-year old, the ruminative husband of a pregnant insomniac, and the confused owner of a terrified dog. Confronted by a flooded basement, a broken refrigerator, a urine-soaked carpet, and a literal snake in the woodpile, Abbott endures the beauty and hopelessness of each moment, often while contemplating evolutionary history, altruism, or the passage of time.

An expectant father and university teacher on summer break, Abbott tackles the agonizing chores of each day, laboring for peace in his household and struggling to keep his daughter clean and happy, all while staving off a fear of failure as a parent, and even as a human being. As he cleans car seats, forgets to apply sun block, clips his dog's nails, dresses his daughter out of season, and makes unsuccessful furniture-buying trips with his wife, his mind plays out an unrelenting series of paradoxical reflections. Abbott's pensive self-doubt comes to a head one day in late June as he cleans vomited raspberries out of his daughter's car seat and realizes: "The following propositions are both true: (A) Abbott would not, given the opportunity, change one significant element of his life, but (B) Abbott cannot stand his life."

Composed of small moments of domestic wonder and terror, Abbott Awaits is a charming story of misadventure, anxiety, and the everyday battles and triumphs of parenthood.

Chris Bachelder is the author of the novels U.S.! and Bear v. Shark. He grew up in Virginia and now teaches in the writing program at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

Review of Abbott Awaits

Abbott Awaits is a very funny book that dissects the untethered brain on vacation while also smartly probing the underside of marriage and fatherhood.

Review of Abbott Awaits

Absent underlying intrigue, this novel relies on its particularly well-developed protagonist and his profound observations. And with no need to race to the next plot point, the book can spend lavish time unpacking tiny events. In one beautiful chapter, just two things happen. Abbott comes up behind his wife and puts his arms around her. Then, later in the day, Abbott’s wife tries to kiss him while he reads. The small, seemingly unconnected, events take place largely devoid of context. We don’t know what happened to the couple that day, what difficulties great or small they confronted. What we do witness is the effects of external events, and we see the way these events serve as synecdoche for their relationship.

Review of Abbott Awaits

"...a sharp and brilliant and hilarious portrait of being a parent."

Review of Abbott Awaits

"Here, Bachelder has discovered how to balance his instinct for wackiness with his immense intelligence and sincerity...There is humor and heartbreak and wonder in this voice, and Bachelder is able to balance those elements without committing to any of them."

SOURCE: The Nation

Interview with Chris Bachelder

Chris Bachelder is the author of Bear v. Shark (Scribner, 2001), U. S.! (Bloomsbury USA, 2006),Lessons in Virtual Tour Photography (McSweeney’s e-book, 2004), and recently, Abbott Awaits(LSU Press, 2011). His stories and essays have appeared in The Believer, The Oxford American,and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, among many others. This interview took place at Centre College in Danville, Kentucky in front of an audience of primarily students and faculty.

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