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Miss Kansas City

Joan Frank
A powerful, haunting novel that takes its characters---tragically yet ineluctably in search of love in all the wrong places---to the breaking point and beyond, even as their lives entangle in unexpected ways


Miss Kansas City is the story of an improbable friendship, set in the tumultuous mid-80s dotcom California, where youthful greed and blinkered innocence arrive intertwined.

Friendless and reclusive, Alex Blue commutes two hours each way to a job that serves mainly as a place to bide time, until one day she meets the wealthy, worldly---and married---owner of a high-concept Bay Area lifestyle company. Meanwhile, the melancholy and closeted Morton Levi, yearning for a loving partner but stung by prior experience, lives a secret life outside the software information company he manages with a steady, efficient hand---the same company where Alex works.

As ominous rumors of mergers and layoffs swirl, and Alex and Mort are pushed to the emotional brink by the vagaries of love, they find themselves forging an unexpected alliance. Miss Kansas City is a moving exploration of the notion of possibility, and of a seasoned hope that can emerge on the other side of loneliness and loss.

Joan Frank is the author of the story collection Boys Keep Being Born, which was both a Bay Area Book Reviewers' Award and Paterson Fiction Award finalist. Her stories appear in many journals and anthologies, including The Antioch Review, The Iowa Review, and Salmagundi. She is a MacDowell Colony and VCCA Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, recipient of a Barbara Deming Grant and Ludwig Vogelstein Grant, and winner of the Iowa Fiction Award and Emrys Fiction Award. She lives in Northern California. Miss Kansas City is her first novel. Visit Joan Frank's website.

Praise / Awards

  • "With tender precision, Joan Frank engineers a lattice of delicate, interlacing relationships, like an armature of glass, then slowly compresses it so we can watch—and feel—it fracture. Miss Kansas City is that rare thing—a novel both compelling and beautifully-made."
    —Anthony Doerr, author of About Grace

  • "Miss Kansas City is an utterly convincing portrait of a world at once specific to its time and place, and yet also universal. Both heartbreaking and redeeming."
    —Eileen Pollack, judge, Michigan Literary Fiction Awards

  • "Miss Kansas City is both a marvelously satisfying story of friendship and love, and a braided exploration of relationships in our time and place. With precision, wit, and compassion, Joan Frank has provided us with an odyssey into the heart—a gorgeous meditation on what it is to be in love, and alone. The writing is clear, and the vision reflected in that clarity is both luminous and honest."
    —Laura Kasischke, judge, Michigan Literary Fiction Awards

  • "In Miss Kansas City Joan Frank, like all good authors, creates a world that is both pleasingly recognisable and yet very much her own. I was at once captivated by her complicated and affecting characters and there was a deep pleasure in turning these beautifully written pages and watching Frank spin her deftly complicated plot. An immensely satisfying novel."
    —Margot Livesey, author of Learning by Heart, Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves the Furniture, and Banishing Verona

  • "Joan Frank is a wonderful writer who nimbly conjures the specificity of time and place with the keen eye of a social observer. Against a rich backdrop, she paints lives of her lonely characters fumbling towards connection with prose that is generous, humane, and often stirring."
    —Marisa Silver, author of No Direction Home

  • ". . .an assured first novel by an irrepressibly talented Northern California writer. . . . noteworthy in its ambition and scope, especially for a narrative that unfolds in slightly under 250 pages. . . . a skillfully rendered depiction of ordinary lives gone awry. . . ."
    San Francisco Chronicle

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Copyright © 2006, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • 264 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2009
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-02167-3

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

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