Idle Curiosity (Hardcover)
Author: Martha Bergland
Publisher: Graywolf Press (1997)
A tiny old man dressed in a red-and-white-striped bathrobe stands outside the white clapboard hotel that for ninety years housed the transients of Half Moon. A former farmer, and ex-husband of two very different women, Ed Check surveys the land that used to be his. He thinks about his daughters: the one who stays close to home and who "keeps what she thinks and feels so deep inside her that it's too far from her face to have any effect"; the one who has come home without her husband and is falling for the new optometrist in town, Nelson Alvin (rhymes with ball peen). But how could he know that his youngest daughter, whom he hasn't seen since she was a small child, is currently on her way to delivering him his biggest surprise. She is working her way down a list of "musts" before she can call him: "wait for bruise to clear up / let roots grow out, cut off blond / get two outfits and a suitcase."
As lives unravel around him, Ed's age-old practice of looking out for his own is put to the test and earns him a pacemaker. To everyone's surprise however, family ties prove to be longer, and stronger, than expected. Despite their status as "grown-ups" Ed finds his daughters need him now more than ever.
In Idle Curiosity, Martha Bergland has created a feisty and compassionate novel that understands that while modern families are certainly more complicated, their need for simple love and understanding is no less compelling than before. Bergland's observations are fresh and illuminating, her humor is earthy, and her characters are full-hearted. Idle Curiosity will delight readers new to Bergland's work, as well as the many fans of her first novel, A Farm under a Lake.