Carry the One
“When you add us up, you always have to carry the one.” Following a devastating moment in the hours after Carmen’s wedding, three siblings and their friends move through the next twenty-five years under its long shadow. Through friendships and love affairs; marriage and divorce; parenthood, holidays, and the modest calamities and triumphs of ordinary days, Carry the One shows how one life affects another, and how those who thrive and those who self-destruct are closer to each other than we’d expect. Whether they take refuge in art, drugs, social justice, or love, Carol Anshaw’s characters are sympathetic, funny, and uncannily familiar as they reflect back to us our deepest pain and longings, our joys, and our transcendent moments of understanding.
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Carry the One
Read an Excerpt
So Carmen was married, just. She sat under a huge butter moon, on a windless night in the summer of 1983, at a table, in front of the remains of some chicken cordon bleu. She looked toward the improvised dance floor where her very new husband was doing the Mexican hat dance with several other large men, three of them his brothers, other Sloans. Matt was a plodding hat-dancer; his kicks threw the others off the beat. In spite of this lack of aptitude, he was waving her over, beckoning her to join in. She waved back as though she thought he was just saying hi. She was hoping to sit out this early phase of her...see more
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Reading Group Guide
Carry the One begins in the hours following Carmen’s wedding reception, when a car filled with stoned, drunk, and sleepy guests accidently hits and kills a girl on a dark, country road. In that moment, the future lives of those involved, including Carmen and her brother and sister, are transformed. They are bound and burdened by this shared tragedy—in the arithmetic of their lives, when they add themselves up, they always have to carry the one. Over the next twenty-five years—through friendships and love affairs; marriage and divorce; parenthood, holidays, and the modest tragedies and joys of ordinary days—each passenger moves forward against the press of guilt and reacts to this shared and catastrophic moment in different and unexpected ways.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. At her wedding reception, Carmen, in a moment of doubt about marriage, thinks: “Still, there was nothing to be done about it now. Forward was the only available direction.” How much of see more