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The Dive from Clausen's Pier (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – Apr 2003

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Paperback, Apr 2003

Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375727132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375727139
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,050,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


There's so much to admire about Packer's debut that one can only look forward to Ms Packer's next offering. ((The Economist))

Packer knows just how to make a story build: the novel reveals a sure sense of pace and pitch, a brilliant ear for character ... A searching emotional generosity. ((The New Yorker))

Gracefully written and provocative. ((The Washington Post)) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Ann Packer received the Great Lakes Book Award and the Kate Chopin Writing Award for The Dive From Clausen's Pier, a national bestseller that has been translated into ten languages. Also the author of Mendocino and Other Stories, she lives in northern California with her family. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
MIKE ALWAYS TEASED me about my memory, about how I could go back years and years to what people were wearing on a given occasion, right down to their jewelry or shoes. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Kenneth W. Douglas on 12 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
This book, at least in its UK incarnation, looks to have been marketed towards the "Contemporary Women's Fiction" market (the title in italicised gold letters and a scenic view on the cover). However, this is, in a quiet way, a highly unusual and original first novel which deserves as wide a readership as possible.
In many ways, it's a story about growing up. Carrie Bell, in her early twenties, has never moved away from her home town or her circle of school friends. She is still dating her high-school sweetheart Mike Mayer, but their relationship is already deteriorating when Mike (motivated partly by a desire to show off to her after a day of lowgrade bickering) dives into shallow water from the pier at Clausen's Reservoir, and ends up quadruplegic. Carrie is faced with tough choices, and is finally forced to behave not as "a girl", but as a grown woman.
Well, as elderly writer Miss Wolf remarks peevishly about her own novel in the book's central section "that's the plot, yes". For the surprising thing here is how Packer resolutely refuses to allow this to become a single-issue novel, or to allow any of the central characters to become one-dimensional. This would have been a particular danger with Mike, who initially appears to be standard-issue high school football team material, but after his accident reveals depths of character which are a surprise both to Carrie and to the reader, and therefore emerges as a real person and not just a victim or symbol. Packer has also taken great care to get the medical details right. Carrie's New York lover, the enigmatic Kilroy, is handled with similar skill; and thankfully Packer has the good sense to let most of his troubled past remain mysterious at the close of the book. Carrie's relationships with both men are handled with great tenderness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DevJohn01 on 10 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
As many reviewers have stated `THE DIVE FROM CLAUSEN'S PIER' started off well. It was easy to read with a promising story line, however, somewhere not too far into the book, the main character, Carrie started to become very unlikable. It made you wonder if you were supposed to feel sorry for her and her situation or everyone around her that she was so clearly hurting.
Carrie is twenty-three years old and has been with her fiancé since she was fifteen. Despite the fact that this should be the happiest time of her life, she is feeling very suffocated having been with the same man for the last eight years, having the same group of friends since elementary school and having lived in the same small Wisconsin town her entire life. But when the unthinkable happens one Memorial Day weekend and Mike Carrie's fiancé becomes paralyzed from the neck down and she is forced to suppress her feelings to flee and be there for Mike. Until one day when she does just that. Carrie packs her bags in the middle of the night and heads straight for New York City without as much as a note to her mother, best friend Jamie, or Mike.
Once in New York Carrie tries to start a whole new life for herself but it seems that all she does is recreate her old one in a new city. She moves into a brownstone with an old high school friend, immediately starts a relationship with an older man (whom she met at dinner party back in her hometown) that completely consumes her. She does not get a job or do anything to give her a new sense of independence she just latches on to her new beau and feels sorry for herself about what she'd done, but makes absolutely no effort to resolve it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
Carrie Bell, a 23-year-old Wisconsin native, is already reconsidering her engagement to Mike Mayer when a tragic accident changes their lives. Mayer's dive from Clausen's Pier during a party results in his broken neck, quadriplegia, and long rehab. Unable to leave Mike during this crisis, Carrie lovingly remains at his side during the crucial early months of his recuperation, wondering, "How much do we owe the people we love?" as she tries to distinguish between love and friendship and the limitations and obligations of each.
Packer's naturalistic style puts the minutiae of the daily lives of Carrie, Mike, their friends, and families under a microscope. We learn, for example, even the smallest details of Carrie's compulsive sewing (how to make a spaghetti strap, why she uses a Bernina sewing machine and Butterick pattern), the exacting therapy a spinal cord injury patient undergoes, some of the cherished traditions of Madison, Wisconsin (Paddle and Portage Day at the lakes), and even some of Carrie's memories of friend Jamie from third grade. Packer is equally precise about what the characters are thinking, feeling, wondering, and concluding so that the reader need never search beneath the surface for hidden meanings or subtleties. ("We were alone together, and also alone within ourselves." "[Carrie went] from guilt to remorse to relief to exhilaration [as she drove to New York]." "You do what you do. Not without consequences for other people.")
The subject of spinal cord injuries arouses powerful feelings in the reader and makes us confront our personal moralities as we consider how we ourselves might behave in similar circumstances, and Packer is remarkable in her ability to illuminate these issues.
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