A Chat with Mary Kay Zuravleff, Author of "Man Alive!"
Today we speak with Mary Kay Zuravleff, an acclaimed author with Oklahoma roots who's now based in Washington, D.C., where she serves on the board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. She'll be in Tulsa tonight (Tuesday the 1st) to participate in a "Book Smart Tulsa BBQ" at Harwelden Mansion, which begins at 6pm. At this event, Zuravleff will be reading from and signing copies of her new novel, "Man Alive!" (The writers Constance Squires and Rilla Askew will also appear at the event, which will feature food from Smoke, a favorite local BBQ emporium.) Zuravleff chats with us about "Man Alive!" in some detail, which is a work that Carolyn See, in The Washington Post, has called "a family novel for smart people; the smarter you are, the better you'll like [it].... What makes this book so terrific? Certainly the lofty reach of its subject matter and its cleverly delivered information about mythology, robotics, etc. But mostly, it's Zuravleff's masterful use of language, particularly dialogue. Each character cries out to us, demanding attention, recognition. A whole family, not just the burned, bruised Dr. Lerner, demands to be seen as human beings --- alive!" And by way of summary, Booklist has noted the following of this novel: "Owen Lerner, on his annual beach vacation with his wife, twin sons, and teenage daughter, is feeding quarters into a parking meter when he is struck by lightning ('He is white-hot as well as deeply quenched by the singed, syrupy fluid of his surround'). The randomness of the event and the sudden glimpse of mortality throw the Lerner family into a tizzy, and their lovely, sheltered life is suddenly cracked wide open. Will and Ricky, college juniors, are completely waylaid, with Will addicted to pills and casual sex, while Ricky is enmeshed in an unhealthy relationship with his professor and her husband. Meanwhile, younger sister Brooke becomes involved with an abusive boyfriend, and their mother, Toni, feels as if the husband she knows and loves has disappeared, as Owen, once a respected child psychiatrist, becomes obsessed with all things barbecue. Zuravleff is an exuberant writer with a sharp sense of humor, and...her satiric jabs (at Whole Foods, among other targets) and joyful wordplay offer plenty to savor."