Item description for Four Corners by Krista Madsen...
Surrounded by endless fields and no trace of ocean, Laur changes her name to Lore and imagines a new existence full of motorcycles and escape. Johnny Crisis, a singer, seems to offer all this. But the barely living and the mostly dead haunt Lore: an eight foot tall deceased father who looms larger than ever, a lower case mom dwindling to bone and still nodding at whatever fanciful feats and stories her husband's memory concocts, and a twin brother who burrows through literal and figurative rubble at home. Teetering, Lore questions these burdens and her budding relationship with Johnny Crisis.
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More About Krista Madsen
A native of Connecticut, Krista Madsen received her undergraduate degree in English from Yale University and her M.F.A. in creative writing from New School University. She currently lives and works in New York City. This is her first novel.
Krista Madsen currently resides in New York, in the state of New York.
Reviews - What do customers think about Four Corners?
a new writer to look out for... Nov 15, 2005
It would be easy for me to be jealous of Krista Madsen. She's young, she's cool, she lives in New York where she apparently owns some kind of arts/wine lounge, she's already published her second novel, and, to top it all off, Four Corners, the novel in question, is darn good. Those of us in Baltimore without novels or wine lounges to our names can only regard her precocious talent with a mixture of awe and envy. Madsen is a rambling spinner of tall tales, and she is also graced with the eye of an artist. Her second novel evokes a world that Paul Bunyan might enter if Paul Bunyan spoke poetry. Madsen has indeed woven a modern American folktale of sorts, but it is the folktale not of blue oxen or steam trains, but rather of a young woman's coming of age. Four Corners is the story of Laurie, who has grown up with her twin brother Joe, eight-foot-tall father, and small, strange mother, in the middle of America somewhere. The world Laurie inhabits is certainly mythic, but whether it's by her own construction or not, we're uncertain. Laurie, after all, longs for a certain measure of subterfuge and stagecraft-she later changes her own name to Lore and falls for a mellow and mediocre rock-n-roller whose pseudonym is Johnny Crisis. The house that Laurie has grown up is the kind of place where the pianos crash through slanted floors and the ceilings are low to keep the children from growing too tall-I immediately pictured the strange, Tim Burton-ish home of Charlie Bucket in the new movie of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In fact, if Madsen's work were ever made into a movie, Tim Burton would surely make it. Madsen relishes the grotesque, glorying in descriptions of long meals at the Golden Corral, delighting in flurries of coupons in a church parking lot, or an accident involving someone impaling themselves. There is something off-kilter, weird, and lovely to her telling, and for some reason, the novel that I'm most reminded of is Daniel Wallace's Big Fish (also made into a film version by Burton.) Perhaps it's just the larger-than-life father or perhaps it's the whiff of what they might in English class call "magical realism," but something in Madsen's work is reminiscent of what I might classify as the new American folk-gothic. The difference, of course, is that unlike a traditional tall tale, Madsen has thrown linearity to the wind. Her story is gnarled and knotted, punctuated by memory and dream recollection. Every so often, two paragraphs will be separated by those time machine asterisks * * * and once again, you, the reader, could re-emerge at almost any temporal point. There could be something dizzying about this, but Madsen pulls it off for the most part. At times, however, one might feel ensnared in what almost seems to be an overgrown short story written by the college workshop's fiction darling- the writing's brilliant, the device works, but it's a bit overworked and at times almost loses its lodestar. Madsen's precocious gift for language, the gorgeous word tangles she creates, are both her strength and her weakness. There is not a moment in the novel that is not beautiful, but there are moments one suspects may have been included simply because Madsen could not bear to scrap them. The occasional feeling of superfluity, however, also seems to be part of what Madsen's attempting to achieve. Her characters also dwell on things, revisit, recall, and rename. They live in states of extremity-feasting or shrinking away to bones, shivering or roasting in the summer-and like anyone living in such extreme states, they are given to preoccupied musings. In the end, what is most striking is Madsen's potential. Four Corners is a delightful novel in which to become entangled, and the experience of reading it is not unlike that of reading a riveting sequence of prose poems. Madsen may still be working out the great story that she needs to tell, and this book is evidence that she has the capacity and talent to tell it. She is a young writer to look out for, and I eagerly await more of her work.