Cover image for Kiss in the Hotel Joseph Conrad and other stories
Kiss in the Hotel Joseph Conrad and other stories
Norman, Howard A.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, N.Y. : Summit Books, [1989]

Physical Description:
158 pages ; 22 cm
Kiss in the Hotel Joseph Conrad -- Jenny Aloo -- Old swimmers -- Laughing and crying -- Catching heat -- Milk train -- Whatever Lola wants.
Format :

On Order


Author Notes

Howard Norman was born in Toledo, Ohio, in 1949 and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He attended Western Michigan University, the Folklore Institute of Indiana University, and the University of Michigan.

His work with the Cree Indians created an interest and he then got a job as a translator of Native American poems and folktales. He put together a collection of his translations in the book, The Wishing Bone Cycle: Narrative Poems of the Swampy Cree Indians, which was named the co-winner of the Harold Morton Landon Translation Award by the Academy of American Poets. With the Help of a Whiting Award, he has also written The Northern Lights as well as Kiss in the Hotel, Joseph Conrad and Other Stories, and The Bird Artist, which was named one of Time Magazine's Best Five Books of 1994 and won the New England Booksellers Association Prize in Fiction.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Howard Norman's stories--like his novel The Northern Lights (Summit, 1987)--are full of magic and tenderness. Set in the late 1950s and early 1960s, they tell surprising tales of solitary figures: train conductors, station masters, movie-theater managers. All the stories have a sense of vast landscapes (often in Canada) juxtaposed against constricted interiors. Norman's characters are reticent, stubborn, and poetic; their lives are often spun around one pivotal event, which is usually the result of indulging a single odd, undeniable impulse, like the air force trainer in the title story who fakes an accident and narrowly avoids real disaster. Shipwrecks and train wrecks also change some characters' lives. In "Old Swimmers," a group of women who survived a shipwreck have a reunion every year, but only one of them shares her memories out loud. When asked why this is, a woman replies enigmatically, "To taste the sea, all you need is one gulp." These stories are very still and precise, but as concentrated and powerful as sea water. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The seven stories in this first collection by the author of the highly praised novel, The Northern Lights , are inhabited mostly by eccentric loners. In the '40s, a renegade pilot of the title story falls in love with a woman in a kissing booth, and for 20 years remains obsessively devoted--though she marries someone else--until they achieve an oddly satisfying relationship living in rooms across from each other in the eponymous hotel. A young man in charge of a remote Canadian railroad station, the narrator of ``Jenny Aloo'' watches an Eskimo woman die in a blizzard, clinging to the misdelivered jukebox she believes houses the spirit of her missing son. In anoth er story, the second engineer on a Vermont milk train in 1912 wakes up in a pool of milk after a crash; disbelieving, he hears the chief engineer, who is dying in the cab, tell him to marry the coal shoveler's widow after his rescue. ``Laughing and Crying'' features a boy who watches his first 3-D movie in Indiana while his mother marches outside picketing the film as a ``Commie plot.'' Although these diverse tales are provocative and distinguished by Norman's ability to transmute the circumstances of daily lives into exotic encounters, his talent seems better suited to the novel's longer form. (Aug. ) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In this collection, Norman discloses a unique talent for capturing the essence of ordinary people, the fingerprint swirl that makes each of us distinctive. In the title story, a careless man who is booted out of the RCAF for having stupidly caused a training plane to crash falls in love with a woman at a kissing booth who refuses to kiss him when he identifies himself. His unrequited passion motivates him for the rest of his life. ``Whatever Lola Wants'' is about Harry, an uprooted sound engineer, who presently runs a drive-in movie in Vermont. His wife Lola, a one-time bit player, wants to see the movie she once made in Hollywood. Harry gets a copy, and though it is mid-winter and snowing, runs it for Lola's birthday. In this story, as in others, Norman shows us the small victories that may be snatched from defeat. The author's first novel, The Northern Lights, was nominated for a National Book Award.-- Marcia Tager, Tenafly, N.J. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.