2008 NOVELLA PRIZE SELECTED BY BRIAN ROLEY
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In Spring 1967, Jenny Havener, a young newlywed in Washington, DC, finds herself deserted by her husband. Her parents, ashamed and eager to find him, take Jenny on a search through the Virginia countryside. Their travels lead them to the rural community of Glen Allen. Jenny doesn’t find her husband, but she meets a disabled African-American baby with whom she falls in love on sight. She abandons her search for her husband, parts way with her parents (who worry she is becoming unhinged) and settles in Glen Allen for the purpose of spending as much time as possible with the child. She settles into an abandoned furniture store and defies the community’s growing suspicions about her reasons for being there. As her obsession about the baby grows, a battle of wills erupts between Jenny and the child’s guardians—his elderly, impoverished great-grandparents—leading to Jenny’s attempts to claim the baby as her own.
Reviews & Such
- A Fight in the Doctor’s Office was reviewed in the Spring 2010 issue of The American Literary Review. Read the review here.
- Cary Holladay’s lovely tale of misguided desire combines the precise vision of Flannery O’Connor with the brutal comic touch of Lewis Nordan. I can’t remember the last book I read with as many moments of mystery, illumination and emotional honesty.
—Michael F. Parker, author of If You Want Me to Stay and Don’t Make Me Stop Now
- A Fight in the Doctor’s Office displays Holladay at the height of moral maturity and artistic control.
- Astute, compassionate and elegant in its rendering, Jenny Hall Havener’s search for purpose is the kind of tale whose narrative arc and urgency demand it be read in one sitting. While featuring a spellbinding child, a fiercely loyal old woman, the precocious Shirley Lloyd and a spectrum of sleep-walking eccentrics, A Fight in the Doctor’s Office is at its heart the story of Jenny’s afflictions, disappointments and hunger to build a meaningful life around a chance meeting. Circumstantially as it begins, Jenny’s story gathers momentum and whirls toward a terrible reckoning in which we are reminded that the journey to the self is always a matter of life and death. Anyone who has wondered about the purpose and possibilities of the novella will find in Cary Holladay’s creation a satisfying, soul-wrenching answer.
—R. T. Smith, author of Uke Rivers Delivers
About the Author
Cary Holladay grew up in Virginia and Pennsylvania. She holds degrees from the College of William and Mary and from Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of four previous books: The Quick-Change Artist: Stories; Mercury; The Palace of Wasted Footsteps; and The People Down South. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, The Goodheart Prize, and the O. Henry Prize, among others. Her husband is the writer John Bensko. They live in Memphis, Tennessee.