Poignant, funny, and relentless in its exploration of what we’ve lost and how we rebuild broken lives…a tough, rewarding novel.
—Judith Rigler, San Antonio Express News
An involving, funny story, full of carefully observed, truthful moments.
—Mary Carroll, Booklist
“The perpetual sun, the deep-dyed faithful sky, the winter that passed like a fugue to be clean forgotten, were what Maidie liked about Arizona.” We know all about that sky. What’s new is Maidie who has “fired and rehired the staff of her life” too many times. Now this devotee of rootlessness has taken a job as curator where she exhibits evidence of long-term attachment: old photographs, colanders, churns, prams, hairpins. This is an eccentric novel, told in narration that moves with such abandon that you have to hang on until you reach firm ground.
Understated and powerful … Newfangled has depth and humor.
—Rosalind Smith, Dallas Morning News
This is a dandy piece of fiction.
—Susan Whitney, Desert News
An incisive view of the disintegration of a modern family. Memories of [Maidie’s] past, of her failed romances, and of the extended families that converge on these recollections, color the fresh start she hoped to make…in Tucson [where] she meets the sexy, if much older, Rex, who rents antiques from the museum for film props, and she also becomes part of the large extended family that takes up much of the neighborhood she lives in. A debut that raises pertinent questions about the fate of modern-day families, and offers some answers in an agreeably sardonic tone.
Newfangled is wonderful. It’s ambitious; it reaches all over the place. More is widely, wildly knowledgeable. And giving Madie a master’s in sociology (or “sociability,” as she wryly notes), allows Monroe to stuff her novel with arcane knowledge and crisp insights. Madie is living where the old-fashioned (nothing wrong with wanting a companion and a home) and the newfangled (maybe I’ll never settle down) collide. What’s a hard-boiled 35-year-old woman to do? Newfangled offers tentative answers, and every page is smart.
—Maggie Galehouse, Washington Post
Debra Monroe demonstrated with her earliest stories that her gift is large, and Newfangled clinches the point. Her protagonist, Maidie, is funny, charming and sad in equal measure. Ms. Monroe has the great gift of being able to make a goofy face while at the same instant focusing on her characters the smart, penetrating gaze of an archeologist unearthing the fragile past.
This situation of long-divided families, Monroe suggests, has become all too common in our post-industrial, newfangled world. Drawing on contemporary psychoanalytic thinkers, Monroe delves into the havoc created by absent fathers, and mothers who are consequently removed from or somehow inappropriately bonded to, their children. Through Maidie’s almost obsessive recitation of psychoanalytic and sociological insights (many of which are genuinely intriguing), Monroe comments on contemporary theory with just the right dose of parody. Legitimate as they may be, theories, we all know, do not make relationships work. Monroe’s considerable lyric powers allow her to render feeling states vividly…and permits Maidie a true, if tentative, re-examination of the simple pleasures of love.
—Paula Friedman, Austin American-Statesman