Cover image for Manhattan Beach
Title:
Manhattan Beach
Edition:
First Scribner hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scribner, 2017.

©2017.
ISBN:
9781476716732
Physical Description:
438 pages ; 24 cm.
Language:
English
General Note:
Colored map on endpapers.
Abstract:
"The long-awaited, daring, and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad. Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that had always belonged to men. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. She is the sole provider for her mother, a farm girl who had a brief and glamorous career with the Ziegfeld Follies, and her lovely, severely disabled sister. At a nightclub, she chances to meet Dexter Styles again, and she begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished. Mesmerizing, hauntingly beautiful, with the pace and atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan's first historical novel is a masterpiece, a deft, startling, intimate exploration of a transformative moment in the lives of women and men, America and the world. Manhattan Beach is a spectacular novel by one of the greatest writers of our time"-- Provided by publisher.
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Prescott Public Library1On Order
Prescott Public Library7Received on 10/10/17
Cottonwood Public Library1Received on 11/21/17
Prescott Valley Public Library1Received on 10/2/17
Bagdad Public Library1Received on 11/20/17
Black Canyon City Community Library1Received on 11/14/17
Cordes Lakes Public Library1Received on 12/7/17
Dewey-Humboldt Town Library1Received on 12/20/17

Summary

Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * NEW YORK'S "ONE BOOK, ONE NEW YORK" PICK

Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction

The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR, Esquire , Vogue, The Washington Post, The Guardian , USA TODAY, Time * A New York Times Notable Book

Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.

‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished.

With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan's first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.


Reviews 6

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lind has a lovely, low, breathy voice and the ability to foster the tension, fear, and fearlessness that fill Egan's finely wrought historical novel. The story is set in the Brooklyn Naval Yard during WWII, where women engage in the urgent work of war while the men are abroad. Actor Lind is captivating from the start as Anna Kerrigan, who, as a brash 11-year old, goes with her father and his boss, Dexter Styles, to Manhattan Beach, where she removes her shoes to feel the icy water on her feet. Anna grows up to fight her way into the very male world of underwater divers, scouring the sea bottom for lost objects, repairing damaged warships, and searching for the remains of her father, who disappeared when she was young and who she comes to suspect is dead. Like Anna, each character has an intimate and complex relation to the sea that can engender birth, healing, and bliss, as well as dread, destruction, and death. Butz handles his narrative sections nicely, creating an especially convincing characterization of Styles, and Piazza imbues a beautiful and terrifying wartime sea scene with all the drama it deserves. The stellar performances of three voice actors make this the type of audiobook that will convert people to the format. A Scribner hardcover. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* The sea, in all its gleaming, brooding, swaying magnificence and mystery, calls to the striving characters in Egan's first historical novel and exerts an equally magnetic pull on readers. In Depression-era New York City, Eddie Kerrigan, a self-possessed, exceptionally observant man, takes his smart, circumspect 11-year-old daughter, Anna, along on his rounds as a bagman for an Irish gangster. One cold day they drive out to Manhattan Beach to meet with Dexter Styles, a dashing and ruthless nightclub impresario who is impressed with Anna's urge to walk barefoot in the frigid sand and sea. Well, what's it feel like? he asks. It only hurts at first, she says. After a while you can't feel anything. Her father is not pleased, but Dexter grins and says, Words to live by. And with that, Egan, a deft and deep-reaching storyteller, establishes the secret triangle upon which this mesmerizing novel of suspense, daring, and determination is so adroitly built. Anna is devoted to her severely disabled sister, Lydia, as is her beautiful mother, a Minnesota farm girl who made her way to New York and the Ziegfeld Follies. Eddie can barely look at his twisted, immobile youngest but commits himself to making enough money to provide the care she needs, hence his dangerous association with Styles, who walks a thin line between legitimate prestige and violent criminality via his ties to the Syndicate. Eddie's gamble backfires, and he disappears. After a year of college, Anna joins the war effort, securing a job at the Brooklyn Naval Yard inspecting parts for battleships. She has an epiphany while watching a man don a massive diving suit: she is destined to be a diver. Her wildly unconventional conviction carries her over every obstacle entrenched misogyny places in her way. Egan revels in Anna's moxie, training, underwater ship-repairing missions, and growing expertise, describing every object, action, and conversation with exhilarating specificity. She knows precisely how those 200-pound diving suits worked, how they felt from the inside, how divers were attached to their tenders above, how they were buffeted by the currents as they worked. She animates the Naval Yard, the waves of ambition, rivalry, gossip, and camaraderie among diverse men and women who never would have known each other if war hadn't tossed them together. Egan was able to write so vividly and fluidly about this seminal time and place because she has been researching the Naval Yard and its divers since 2004, six years before A Visit from the Goon Squad (2010) appeared. In that innovative and episodic novel, which garnered the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Booklist's Top of the List, Egan considered the seismic impact of digital technology, as she did in The Keep (2006), in which gothic meets high-tech. Here, in this more traditionally told tale, she looks back to the coalescence of an earlier technological revolution as the world went to war, American industrialization was weaponized, men were sent to the front, and women filled new jobs.Like Dennis Lehane, Egan has combined insightful historical fiction with emotionally rich crime fiction to create a riveting and provocative investigation into the human condition. For all her keen attunement to social metamorphosis, what is most engrossing is Egan's charting of the psychological eddies and storms that shape her irresistibly stubborn, risk-seeking characters. Eddie's tough boyhood left him preferring danger over sorrow any day of the week. Anna does what she believes she must, no matter the consequences. How sharply Egan delineates the byzantine calculus inherent in underworld alliances; how powerfully she evokes the glory and perils of nature and the utter nihilism of erotic desire. There's more. Egan also follows the fate of the archetypcally motley crew of a merchant-marine ship in U-boat-infested waters, mustering the piercing detail and wrenching drama found in Melville and Conrad. Ultimately, Egan's propulsive, surprising, ravishing, and revelatory saga, a covertly profound page-turner that will transport and transform every reader, casts us all as divers in the deep, searching for answers, hope, and ascension.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2017 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

THE NINTH HOUR, by Alice McDermott. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $26.) In McDermott's novel, the cause of a young Irish widow and her daughter is taken up by the nuns of a Brooklyn convent. But as the years pass, this struggling pair can't banish worldly temptation, with possibly dire consequences for their faith. MANHATTAN BEACH, by Jennifer Egan. (Scribner, $28.) Egan's first novel since the Pulitzer-winning "A Visit From the Goon Squad" tells a more traditional story - about a woman who works in the Brooklyn Navy Yards during World War II, and the disappearance of her father years earlier - but offers many of the same pleasures of language and character. A FORCE SO SWIFT: Mao, Truman and the Birth of Modern China, 1949, by Kevin Peraino. (Crown, $28.) Peraino's absorbing study of the pivotal year in Chinese-American relations shows how decisions made then have continued to affect relations between the two countries down to the present day. NEW PEOPLE, by Danzy Senna. (Riverhead, $26.) Set in mid-1990s Brooklyn, Senna's novel centers on a light-skinned black woman who despite her engagement to a biracial man becomes infatuated with a dark-skinned poet; it explores both the dream and the impossibility of a "post-racial" world. A LOVING, FAITHFUL ANIMAL, by Josephine Rowe. (Catapult, paper, $16.95.) In Rowe's gorgeous and harrowing debut novel, an emotionally scarred Vietnam veteran disappears from a small Australian town, leaving his family behind to struggle with intergenerational trauma. HALF-LIGHT: Collected Poems, 1965-2016, by Frank Bidart. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $40.) With its stylized spacing and typography, Bidart's work scores the speech inside his head. This career retrospective, a contender for a National Book Award this year, shows how he shed the masks of his early poems to create a kind of self-mythology. THE TWELVE-MILE STRAIGHT, by Eleanor Henderson. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $27.99.) A lynching and the legacy of Jim Crow haunt generations of a family in Henderson's second novel, which is ever alert to the proximity of oppressed and oppressor. Empathy for its troubled cast is one of the novel's great strengths. THE WOLF, THE DUCK & THE MOUSE, by Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. (Candlewick, $17.99; ages 4 to 8.) In this darkly witty collaboration, a mouse is gobbled up by a wolf. Inside, he meets a duck who has set up housekeeping. A PROPERLY UNHAUNTED PLACE, by William Alexander. (Margaret K. McElderry, $16.99; ages 8 to 12.) A woman who specializes in "ghost appeasement" and her daughter move to a town that has banished all ghosts, but all is not as calm as it seems. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books


Guardian Review

The author of A Visit from the Goon Squad returns with a more conventional historical novel following the lives of a family in Brooklyn during and after the Depression Jennifer Egan has said that she wants each novel she writes to teach her something new. So what does the writer who won a Pulitzer prize in 2011 for A Visit from the Goon Squad -- an experimental, audacious novel that embraces discontinuity, told in 13 chapters from varying points of view, including a surprisingly moving chapter in the form of a PowerPoint presentation -- try next? Unpredictably, Egan has written something that looks at first glance like a traditional historical novel. A work of remarkable cinematic scope, Manhattan Beach portrays the lives of an Irish family in Brooklyn, set against the backdrop of the Great Depression and then the second world war. A young woman becomes a diver to help the war effort and uncovers the powerful forces that led to her beloved father's disappearance; a father is forced to leave his family behind to save his own life; and a successful mobster gets swept up in cultural tides that threaten everything he's built. As a novelist, Egan possesses an unusual mix of qualities, combining a powerful social realism with poetic resonances that derive from her precise imagery and her fascination with the limitations of language. Here, she places her characters in situations that permit trenchant cultural observations, writing revealingly about the challenges of coming of age in the middle of the American century, when women's lives were substantially circumscribed. But this novel is also metaphysical in nature: Egan's characters are transformed by the vast ocean around them, which both hides and reveals. In the vivid opening set piece, 11-year-old Anna Kerrigan accompanies her father Eddie to visit a charming mobster named Dexter Styles at his house in Manhattan Beach. A former stockbroker, Eddie hit hard times during the Depression. Now he's working "at subsistence wages" as a bag man for Dunellen, a corrupt union official and old friend. But Eddie is angling for a new job: he needs money to pay for a wheelchair for Anna's sister Lydia, who is severely disabled. Anna, of course, knows none of this, and the scene is written with the watchfulness of a young girl. When her father leaves her alone with Dexter's daughter and her nurse at the beach, she finds herself driven to plunge her feet into the icy water, producing "a flame of ache that felt unexpectedly pleasant", and resonating with the novel's theme of loss: There was a feeling she had, standing at [the sea's] edge: an electric mix of attraction and dread. What would be exposed if all that water should suddenly vanish? A landscape of lost objects: sunken ships, hidden treasure, gold and gems and the charm bracelet that had fallen from her wrist into a storm drain. Dead bodies, her father always added, with a laugh. To him, the ocean was a wasteland. While the reader might expect this scene to precede a book exploring Eddie and Dexter's developing relationship, Egan thwarts our expectations, and Manhattan Beach is driven instead by the suspense of wondering what really happened that day. After the opening section, we flash forward to the mid-1940s: Anna is 19, working at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Eddie has disappeared. Six years earlier, he "had left the apartment as he would have on any day -- she couldn't even recall it. The truth had arrived gradually, like nightfall." Anna now supports her mother and Lydia, who has turned almost entirely inward, not speaking or moving, and whom Anna loves with a doomed tenderness that Egan evokes with painful realism. She fiercely pushes her way into a job as the only female diver in the Navy Yard, and later pursues a one-night stand with Dexter after meeting him at one of his night clubs, concealing her identity and hoping to learn what happened to her missing father. Egan shifts perspectives fluidly, moving from Anna to Eddie to Dexter -- all written in the close third person that allows us to shadow the characters' inner lives. Dexter is drawn with uncommon complexity, a man driven to define himself against his father, aware of how power creates a "radical reordering" of one's place in the world. In one crucial scene, Anna asks him to take Lydia to the beach, where Lydia briefly awakens and speaks. The moment changes not only Anna but Dexter for ever. In this crucial scene, Egan pushes the writing towards a kind of Joycean musical fragmentation that convincingly conveys the extraordinariness of the encounter. We tell ourselves stories in order to live, as Joan Didion said, but often those stories are wrong or horribly partial. Egan's interest seems to be in all the ways that our single perspective limits the stories we tell -- how our lives get reordered by the discovery of key facts we lacked. Anna thinks her father disappeared because he couldn't deal with her sister's disability. Likewise, her boss and the many men she encounters tell a limited story about her: they believe that because she is a woman, she can't be mentally or physically strong enough to do the work. Her quest to prove them wrong is one of the real thrills of this book. Egan describes diving, beautifully, as an act that delivers Anna "to a purely tactile realm that seemed to exist outside the rest of life. It was like pushing through a wall and finding a hidden chamber just beyond it." Egan's decision to withhold crucial scenes until late on ends up feeling disappointing, even if one can appreciate the reasons for her doing so. It's in the later sections that we meet Eddie once more, now a third mate on a cargo ship, the Elizabeth Seaman. We learn what happened all those years ago as we follow him in his own role in the war effort, but at this late stage the narrative feels less urgent than expository. This may be a weakness of Manhattan Beach, but it comes from an admirable attempt to deploy narrative as a tool to enact -- to mimic -- the disruptions we experience in real life. This is a novel that will pull you in and under and carry you away on its rip tides. In particular, Anna's plight as a woman whose will is larger than her circumstances is dramatised with tremendous power. Its resonances continue to wash over the reader long after the novel ends. - Meghan O'Rourke.


Kirkus Review

After stretching the boundaries of fiction in myriad ways (including a short story written in Tweets), Pulitzer Prize winner Egan (A Visit from the Goon Squad, 2010, etc.) does perhaps the only thing left that could surprise: she writes a thoroughly traditional novel.It shouldn't really be surprising, since even Egan's most experimental work has been rich in characters and firmly grounded in sharp observation of the society around them. Here, she brings those qualities to a portrait of New York City during the Depression and World War II. We meet 12-year-old Anna Kerrigan accompanying her adored father, Eddie, to the Manhattan Beach home of suave mobster Dexter Styles. Just scraping by "in the dregs of 1934," Eddie is lobbying Styles for a job; he's sick of acting as bagman for a crooked union official, and he badly needs money to buy a wheelchair for his severely disabled younger daughter, Lydia. Having rapidly set up these situations fraught with conflict, Egan flashes forward several years: Anna is 19 and working at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, the sole support of Lydia and their mother since Eddie disappeared five years earlier. Adult Anna is feisty enough to elbow her way into a job as the yard's first female diver and reckless enough, after she runs into him at one of his nightclubs, to fall into a one-night stand with Dexter, who initially doesn't realize whose daughter she is. Disastrous consequences ensue for them both but only after Egan has expertly intertwined three narratives to show us what happened to Eddie while drawing us into Anna's and Dexter's complicated longings and aspirations. The Atlantic and Indian oceans play significant roles in a novel saturated by the sense of water as a vehicle of destiny and a symbol of continuity (epigraph by Melville, naturally). A fatal outcome for one appealing protagonist is balanced by Shakespearean reconciliation and renewal for others in a tender, haunting conclusion. Realistically detailed, poetically charged, and utterly satisfying: apparently there's nothing Egan can't do. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Library Journal Review

An 11-year-old's daring 1934 dip at Brooklyn's Manhattan Beach introduces the tautly twisted threads of Egan's first novel since 2011's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Visit from the Goon Squad. This tripart historical hybrid-part family saga, part noirish mystery, part testimony to women's war-fueled empowerment-features Heather Lind as adventurous tween Anna Kerrigan; -Norbert Leo Butz as Anna's father, Eddie; and Vincent Piazza as Eddie's boss Dexter Styles. Lind seamlessly matures into bold, independent Anna who becomes the Brooklyn Navy Yard's first female scuba diver. Butz voices Eddie, initially a yes-man to Styles, who disappears from his family but not from the narrative; Butz exhibits the greatest range, showcasing his facility with accents to create additional global characters. Piazza, too, convincingly embodies a roster of lesser characters in addition to Styles, who is both socialite and gangster. Aural direction takes a less-than-effective turn when dialog between major characters is obviously spliced together-for example, in an especially intimate scene, Anna and Dexter sound more like they're conversing from separate tunnels than in the same space. VERDICT Despite occasional production glitches, the separate strengths of the narrating trio make this Beach a worthwhile destination. ["This large, ambitious novel shows Egan at the top of her game": LJ 9/1/17 starred review of the Scribner hc.]-Terry Hong, Smithsonian BookDragon, Washington, DC © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

PART TWO Shadow World CHAPTER FIVE It all started with seeing the girl. Anna had gone outside to buy lunch over the disapproval of her supervisor, Mr. Voss, who liked them to bring their lunches from home and eat them on the same tall stools where they sat measuring all day. Anna sensed anxiety in his wish to keep them in sight, as if girls at large in the Naval Yard might scatter like chickens. True, their shop was pleasant to eat in, clean and brightly lit by a bank of second-story windows. It had conditioned air, a humming chill that had filled every corner during the hot September days when Anna first came to work there. Now she would have liked to open a window and let in the fresh October air, but the windows were permanently shut, sealing out dust and grime that might affect the measurements she and the other girls took--or was it that the tiny parts they were measuring needed to be pristine in order to function? No one knew, and Mr. Voss was not a man who welcomed questions. Early on, Anna had asked of the unrecognizable parts in her tray, "What are we measuring, exactly, and which ship are they for?" Mr. Voss's pale eyebrows rose. "That information isn't necessary to do your job, Miss Kerrigan." "It would help me to do it better." "I'm afraid I don't follow." "I would know what I was doing." The marrieds hid their smiles. Anna had been cast--or cast herself--in the role of unruly kid sister, and was enjoying it immensely. She found herself looking for little ways to challenge Mr. Voss without risking outright insubordination. "You are measuring and inspecting parts to ensure that they are uniform," he said patiently, as if to a halfwit. "And you are setting aside any that are not." Soon it came to be known that the parts they were inspecting were for the battleship Missouri, whose keel had been laid almost a year before Pearl Harbor in Dry Dock 4. Later, the Missouri's hull had been floated across Wallabout Bay to the building ways: vast iron enclosures whose zigzagging catwalks evoked the Coney Island Cyclone. Knowing that the parts she was inspecting would be adjoined to the most modern battleship ever built had indeed brought some additional zest to the work for Anna. But not enough. When the lunch whistle blew at eleven-thirty, she was itching to get outside. In order to justify leaving the building, she didn't bring a lunch--a ploy she knew did not fool Mr. Voss. But he couldn't very well deny a girl food, so he watched grimly as she made for the door while the marrieds unwrapped sandwiches from waxed paper and talked about husbands in boot camp or overseas; who'd had a letter; clues or hunches or dreams as to where their beloveds might be; how desperately frightened they were. More than one girl had wept, describing her terror that a husband or fiancé would not return. Anna couldn't listen. The talk stirred in her an uncomfortable anger at these girls, who seemed so weak. Thankfully, Mr. Voss had put an end to that topic during working hours, prompting an unlikely trill of gratitude in Anna. Now they sang songs from their colleges while they worked: Hunter, St. Joseph's, Brooklyn College, whose song Anna finally learned--not having bothered to in the year she was a student there. She synchronized her wristwatch with the large wall clock they all answered to, and stepped outdoors. After the sealed hush of her shop, the roar of Yard noise always shocked her: crane and truck and train engines; the caterwaul of steel being cut and chipped in the nearby structural shop; men hollering to be heard. The stench of coal and oil mingled with gusts of chocolate from the factory on Flushing Avenue. It wasn't making chocolate anymore, but something for soldiers to eat when they might otherwise starve. This chocolate cousin was supposed to taste like a boiled potato, Anna had heard, so that soldiers wouldn't be tempted to snack on it ahead of time. But the smell was still delicious. As she hurried alongside Building 4, the structural shop, with its thousand dingy windows, she saw a girl climbing onto a bicycle. Anna didn't register at first that it was a girl; she wore the same plain blue work clothes they all did. But something in her bearing, the flair with which she mounted, caught Anna's eye, and she watched the girl glide away with a shiver of envy. At a canteen near the piers, she bought her forty-cent boxed meal--today it was chicken, mashed potatoes, canned peas, and applesauce--and made her way toward Piers C and D, both close enough to her shop that she could eat (often while standing, even walking) and be back on her stool by twelve-fifteen. A ship had berthed at Pier C since the previous day, its sudden towering apparition almost otherworldly. With each step Anna took toward the ship, its height seemed to rise, until she had to tip her head fully back to follow the curved prow all the way up to the distant deck. It was thronged with sailors, identical-looking in their toylike uniforms and caps, all leaning over the rail to gawk at something below. In that same moment, a chorus of catcalls reached her. She went still, clutching her boxed lunch--then saw with relief that the object of their ardor was not her but the girl on the bicycle, who was riding back alongside the ship from the foot of the pier, a tousle of peroxide curls pried from her scarf by the wind. Anna watched her approach, trying to discern whether the girl was enjoying this attention or not. Before she could make up her mind, the bicycle hit a patch of gravel and skidded on its side, dumping its rider onto the brick-paved pier, to the jeering hilarity of the sailors. Had the men been within reach of the girl, they doubtless would have elbowed each other aside to rush to her aid. But at such a height, with only each other to show off for, they settled for an orgy of heckling: "Aw, poor baby lost her balance." "Shame she's not wearing a skirt." "Say, you're pretty even when you're crying." But the girl wasn't crying. She stood up angrily, humiliated but defiant, and Anna decided then that she liked her. She'd thought fleetingly of running to help the girl, but was glad she'd resisted--two girls struggling with a bicycle would be funnier than just one. And this girl would not have wanted help. She straightened her shoulders and walked the bicycle slowly to the top of the pier, where Anna was, giving no sign that she heard anything. Anna saw how pretty she was, with dimpled cheeks and flickering blue eyes, those Jean Harlow curls. Familiar, too--perhaps because she looked the way Lydia might have looked had she not been the way she was. The world was full of strangers (Betty Grable among them) for whom Anna felt a sisterly affection for that reason. But as the girl stalked past, ignoring Anna, she recognized her as one of the girls whom reporters had chosen to follow in September, on the first day girls had started working at the Naval Yard. Anna had seen her picture in the Brooklyn Eagle. When she was safely past the ship, the girl mounted her bicycle and rode away. Anna checked her wristwatch and discovered with horror that she was almost thirteen minutes late. She sprinted toward her building, aware of creating a mild spectacle by running. She flew past the inspectors on the first floor--all men, using ladders to measure bigger parts--and resumed her stool at 12:37, sweat coursing from her armpits along the inside of her jumpsuit. She fixed her eyes on the tray of small parts she was given each day to measure and tried to quell her panting. Rose, a married she was friendly with, gave her a warning look from the next table. The micrometer was stupidly easy to use: clasp, screw, read. Anna had been delighted with this assignment at first; girls in trades like welding and riveting had needed six weeks of instruction, whereas inspecting required just a week of aptitude tests. She was among college girls, and Mr. Voss had used the word "elite" in his introductory remarks, which had pleased her. Above all, she was tired of working with her hands. But after two days of reading the micrometer and then stamping a paper that came with her tray to certify that the parts were uniform, Anna found that she loathed the job. It was monotonous yet required concentration; numbingly mundane yet critical enough that it took place in a "clean room." Squinting at the micrometer made her head pound. She had an urge sometimes to try and use just her fingers to gauge whether the parts were correctly sized. But she could only guess, then had to measure to find out if her guess was correct. And the all-knowing Mr. Voss had spotted her working with her eyes closed. "May I ask what you're doing, Miss Kerrigan?" he'd remarked. When Anna told him (for the amusement of the marrieds), he'd said, "This is no time for whimsy. We've a war to fight." Now, when the shift was done and they were back in street clothes, Mr. Voss asked Anna to step inside his office. No one had ever been called to his office; this was ominous. "Shall I wait?" Rose asked as the other marrieds wished her luck and hurried away. But Anna demurred, knowing that Rose had a baby to get home to. The snapper's office was bare and provisional, like most of the Naval Yard. After standing briefly when she entered, Mr. Voss resumed his seat behind a metal desk. "You were twenty minutes late returning from lunch," he said. "Twenty-two, in fact." Anna stood before him, her heart pumping directly into her face. Mr. Voss was an important man in the Yard; the commandant had telephoned him more than once. He could have her dismissed. This was a prospect she hadn't fully considered in the weeks she'd spent gently galling him. But it struck her now with force: she had withdrawn from Brooklyn College. If she weren't here at work, she would be back at home with her mother, caring for Lydia. "I'm sorry," she said. "It won't happen again." "Have a seat," he said, and Anna lowered herself onto a chair. "If you've not had much experience in the working world, these rules and restrictions must seem like quite a bother." "I've worked all my life," she said, but it sounded hollow. She was full of shame, as if she'd glimpsed her own reflection in a shopwindow and found it ridiculous. A college girl craving a taste of war work. An "elite." That was how he must see her. Slogans from the Shipworker drifted through her mind: minutes saved here mean lives saved there. when you don't work, you work for the enemy. "You're aware that we may not win the war," he said. She blinked. "Why, yes. Of course." Newspapers weren't allowed inside the Naval Yard for fear of damaging morale, but Anna bought a Times each evening outside the Sands Street gate. "You realize that the Nazis have Stalingrad surrounded." She nodded, head bowed in humiliation. "And that the Japs control the Pacific theater from the Philippines to New Guinea?" "Yes." "You understand that the work we do here, building and repairing Allied ships, is what allows sailors, airplanes, bombs, and convoy escorts to reach the field of battle?" A filament of annoyance waggled inside her. He'd made his point. "Yes." "And that hundreds of Allied merchantmen have been torpedoed since the war began, with more going down each day?" "We're losing fewer ships than before, and building more," she said quietly, having read this in the Times just recently. "Kaiser shipyard built a Liberty ship in ten days last month." It sounded egregiously fresh, and Anna waited for the blow to fall. But Mr. Voss merely said after a pause, "I notice you don't bring a lunch. I presume you live at home?" "Yes, I do," Anna said. "But my mother and I are awfully busy caring for my sister. She's badly crippled." This was true. But also untrue. Her mother made breakfast and dinner for Anna; she easily could have packed a lunch, and had offered to. Anna had slipped into the unguarded manner she often found herself assuming with strangers, or virtual strangers. Her reward was a faint disturbance of surprise in Mr. Voss's face. "Now, that's a shame," he said. "Can't your father help?" "He's gone." She almost never revealed this fact, and hadn't planned to. "In the service?" He looked dubious; surely a man with a nineteen-year-old daughter would be too old. "Just--gone." "He abandoned your family?" "Five years ago." Had Anna felt any emotion at this disclosure, she would have concealed it. But she did not. Her father had left the apartment as he would have on any day--she couldn't even recall it. The truth had arrived gradually, like nightfall: a recognition, when she caught herself awaiting his return, that she'd waited days, then weeks, then months--and he'd still not come. She was fourteen, then fifteen. Hope became the memory of hope: a numb, dead patch. She no longer could picture him clearly. Mr. Voss took a long breath. "Well, that is difficult," he said. "Very difficult for you and your mother." "And my sister," she said reflexively. The silence that opened around them was uncomfortable but not unpleasant. It was a change. Mr. Voss's shirtsleeves were rolled; she noticed the blond hairs on his hands and strong rectangular wrists. Anna sensed his sympathy, but the tight aperture of their discourse afforded no channel through which sentiment might flow. And sympathy was not what she wanted. She wanted to go out at lunchtime. The bustle of the shift change had settled; the night inspectors must be at work on their trays. Anna found herself recalling the girl on the bicycle. Nell--the name came to her suddenly, from the newspaper caption. "Miss Kerrigan," Mr. Voss said at last. "You may go out for lunch, if you will carefully mind the time and work to your full capacity." "Thank you," Anna cried, leaping to her feet. Mr. Voss looked startled, then stood as well. He smiled, something she hadn't seen before. It changed him, that smile, as if all the severity he displayed on the inspection floor were a hiding place from which this amiable man had just waved hello. Only his voice was the same. "I expect your mother will be needing you at home," he said. "Good evening." Excerpted from Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.