Schroder: A Novel (Hardcover)
February 2013 Indie Next List
“This deeply layered novel about an embattled father reclaiming his only joy drew me in with the intense beauty of its language and the doomed journey of its unreliable narrator. In Erik Schroder, Gaige gives us a character who should repel but whom I loved for his humanity and the way he expressed his love for his daughter and she, her love for him. Schroder takes the reader into the arrested heart of a foreigner whose need to appear American is ultimately his undoing. That we care about him is a testament to Gaige's skill and compassion.”
— Vicki DeArmon, Copperfield's Books, Sebastopol, CA
A lyrical and deeply affecting novel recounting the seven days a father spends on the road with his daughter after kidnapping her during a parental visit.
Attending a New England summer camp, young Eric Schroder-a first-generation East German immigrant-adopts the last name Kennedy to more easily fit in, a fateful white lie that will set him on an improbable and ultimately tragic course.
Schroder relates the story of Eric's urgent escape years later to Lake Champlain, Vermont, with his six-year-old daughter, Meadow, in an attempt to outrun the authorities amid a heated custody battle with his wife, who will soon discover that her husband is not who he says he is. From a correctional facility, Eric surveys the course of his life to understand-and maybe even explain-his behavior: the painful separation from his mother in childhood; a harrowing escape to America with his taciturn father; a romance that withered under a shadow of lies; and his proudest moments and greatest regrets as a flawed but loving father.
Alternately lovesick and ecstatic, Amity Gaige's deftly imagined novel offers a profound meditation on history and fatherhood, and the many identities we take on in our lives--those we are born with and those we construct for ourselves.
About the Author
"Daring...a clean, suspenseful, economical story that is also a clever act of social commentary...As a case study of the unreliable narrator, SCHRODER is beautifully managed...Gaige...is an accomplished writer, and the novel elegantly navigates its ethical razor's edge, brining the reader along on a kind of joyride gone wrong...half sympathy-inducing mea culpa, half a bristling act of bravado and self-ignorance...Novelists like Gaige remind us that we live not in the age of the nineteenth-century marriage plot but in the era of the twenty-first century divorce plot...Gaige writes with a cool strangeness, a strong sense of style...Schroder is by turns dry, peculiar, expansive, and visionary."—Meghan O'Rourke, Bookforum
"It's a mark of how good SCHRODER is that, upon finishing it, I immediately went out and read the rest of her work."—Kathryn Schulz, New York Magazine
"...a fascinating psychological portrait of love, longing and self-loathing....Written as a jailhouse confession to his ex-wife, SCHRODER's closest literary relative is probably Lolita (minus the pedophilia): The compellingly unreliable narrator of European background, the East Coast road trip with the precocious child, the narcissism, the unsavory motels, the whiff of danger. SCHRODER easily stands up to the comparison....And yet the book, at its heart, is a love story. Schroder may be deluded-and a woefully irresponsible parent-but his touching, sincere adoration of his daughter and ex-wife is his great redemption."—The Los Angeles Times
"Brilliantly written....What could be a hackneyed novelistic trope--the confessional letter--is completely transformed in Gaige's sure and insightful hands....SCHRODER is a haunting look at the extreme desire for love and family, and how the mind can justify that need to possess what it cannot have. Almost, just almost, Schroder has us rooting for him."—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Amity Gaige has written a flawless book. It does not contain a single false note. Playful and inventive, SCHRODER movingly depicts the ways we confound our own hearts--how even with the best intentions, we fail to love those closest to us as well as we wish we could. Eric Schroder should take his place among the most charismatic and memorable characters in contemporary fiction, and Amity Gaige her place among the most talented and impressive writers working today."
—David Bezmozgis, prize-winning author of Natasha and Other Stories and The Free World
"Terrific.... SCHRODER grabs you early on, holds you with its lyrical prose and surprising insights and lingers in the mind long afterward."—The Pittsburgh Post Gazette
"SCHRODER is a beautifully told story about how a father's undeniable love for his young child can be distorted by the pressure he experiences at the thought of being cut off from her.... we all are destined to fall short of our expectations, to fail to match our lovingly painted self-portraits, some of us more dramatically and tragically than others. It's but one of many penetrating insights that transport Amity Gaige's novel from the realm of mere artifice to the status of real art."—Book Reporter
"With SCHRODER Gaige has created a narrator who, while flawed and frustrating, is intensely lovable....SCHRODER is a touching story of parental alienation."—Wisconsin State Journal
"Prepare to be captivated by SCHRODER, a riveting novel by Amity Gaige with a unique and incredibly creative voice...SCHRODER is a book to be digested slowly, reread and discussed. It's quite a wild ride, but the miles fly by with Amity Gaige at the wheel."—The Missourian
"Eric is the unlikeliest of characters to charm a reader. His life is a tabloid drama: man abducts daughter, gets arrested and confesses in a letter to his estranged wife. It is to the credit of Amity Gaige, an American writer, that her third novel, SCHRODER, transforms this thriller plot into a deeply moving tale....What distinguishes SCHRODER is its insight and language....Ms. Gaige excels at landscapes; her writing has the still, clear beauty of a mountain lake."—The Economist
"It's a fine line, sometimes, between disturbing and enrapturing. Amity Gaige's new novel, SCHRODER, treads that thrilling line-swiftly, and on tiptoe-for 270 pages. It is impossible to put down....Despite his criminal behavior, our intimacy with Eric makes his behavior, and this story, more tragic than enraging. Does he love his daughter? We know that he thinks he does. But does carting her across state lines-in a stolen car, no less-constitute love? Who's to say? SCHRODER certainly doesn't give us an easy answer. But it digs deeply, satisfyingly, disturbingly into the question....she's created a riveting tale, at once infuriating, heartbreaking and human."—The Denver Post
"Amity Gaige's SCHRODER is a triumph of voice. Part road trip escapade, part liar's lament, this absorbing, expertly crafted book takes the form of a self-serving but moving apologia written in an Albany jail cell by an untrustworthy but genuinely heartbroken father and ex-husband with astonishingly bad judgment....one heartrending lesson from all these narratives is that even a deeply flawed parent can be a loving one."—Barnes & Noble Review