About Love Is a Canoe:
Peter Herman is something of a folk hero. Marriage Is a Canoe, his legendary, decades-old book on love and relationships, has won the hearts of hopeful romantics and desperate cynics alike. He and his beloved wife lived a relatively peaceful life in upstate New York. But now it’s 2010, and Peter’s wife has just died. Completely lost, he passes the time with a woman he admires but doesn’t love—and he begins to look back through the pages of his book and question homilies such as:
A good marriage is a canoe—it needs care and isn’t meant to hold too much—no more than two adults and a few kids.
It’s advice he has famously doled out for decades. But what is it worth?
Then Peter receives a call from Stella Petrovic, an ambitious young editor who wants to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Marriage Is a Canoe with a contest for struggling couples. The prize? An afternoon with Peter and a chance to save their relationship.
The contest ensnares its creator in the largely opaque politics of her publishing house while it introduces the reader to couples in various states of distress, including a shy thirtysomething Brooklynite and her charismatic and entrepreneurial husband, who may just be a bit too charismatic for the good of their marriage. There’s the middle-aged publisher whose imposing manner has managed to impose loneliness on her for longer than she cares to admit. And then there is Peter, who must discover what he meant when he wrote Marriage Is a Canoe if he is going to help the contest’s winners and find a way to love again.
In Love Is a Canoe, Ben Schrank delivers a smart, funny, romantic, and hugely satisfying novel about the fragility of marriage and the difficulty of repairing the damage when well-intentioned people forget how to be good to each other.
“With brilliant subtlety, Ben Schrank reveals the ways in which belief in popular, sentimental bromides about marriage can impede real connection and true, long-lasting love. Love Is a Canoe is a sharply funny, beautifully original novel filled with interesting, tough-minded characters, great dialogue, and a riveting, excellent plot. The ending is perfect.” —Kate Christensen, author of The Astral and The Great Man
“I don’t think of myself as loving particular kinds of fiction, but this book made me realize I do: fiction, for instance, like this—smart, darkly funny (but not jokey) books that are knowing and wise but a little skeptical of knowingness and the possibility of wisdom. Love Is a Canoe would join Martin Amis’s The Information and Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys on my shelf devoted to terrific satirical novels about writers and publishing, if I had such a shelf.” —Kurt Andersen, author of True Believers and Heyday
“Love Is a Canoe captures the most essential difficulties of marriage and commitment—our fears of love and loss. A brilliant book of do-overs and second chances, Schrank’s novel is mordantly funny and an all-too-real meditation on modern life.” —A. M. Homes, author of May We Be Forgiven and This Book Will Save Your Life
“Love Is a Canoe takes a good look at the world of self-help and both mocks and embraces our dearest and corniest desires. Ben Schrank’s terrific new novel is a real self-help book, and you should help yourself to it.” —Daniel Handler, author of Why We Broke Up
“Our bookshelves all have an empty space waiting for the book we long for but cannot quite imagine because it can’t be described as ‘the next A’ or ‘Author X by way of Author Y.’ Love Is a Canoe fills that nameless void. Funny, tender, wholly original—it’s as if all the good fairies came to its christening (story, dialogue, character, heart). I loved it.” —Laura Lippman, author of And When She Was Good and The Most Dangerous Thing
“It’s not surprising that Ben Schrank would produce a witty, insightful novel about the world of publishing. The real revelation here is how wise Schrank is while navigating the far more complicated terrain of love and human relationships. Love Is a Canoe is a wonderful and deceptively breezy novel—heartfelt and wise; light as feathers, strong as iron.” —Adam Langer, author of Crossing California and The Thieves of Manhattan
“Three stories of personal and literary authenticity weave through this novel of love and books that gets sharper and smarter as it progresses . . . The honesty doled out as events unspool is bracing and frank, and gives these characters added depth and wisdom.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Schrank has firm command of the story, never letting the plot turns descend into farce, and the closing pages are a convincing portrait of how relationships shift in ways no self-help book can anticipate. A wise imagining of modern-day love, unromantic but never cynical.” —Kirkus Reviews
Ben Schrank is president and publisher of Razorbill, a Penguin imprint that is home to many award-winning and New York Times–bestselling books for children and young adults. Ben is also the author of the novels Consent and Miracle Man. He wrote “Ben’s Life,” a monthly column for Seventeen magazine, in the 1990s. He grew up in Brooklyn, where he lives with his wife and son.
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