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See what I have done
2017
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ONE LIZZIE August 4, 1892 HE WAS STILL bleeding. I yelled, "Someone's killed Father." I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked. I looked at Father, the way hands clutched to thighs, the way the little gold ring on his pinkie finger sat like a sun. I gave him that ring for his birthday when I no longer wanted it. "Daddy," I had said, "I'm giving this to you because I love you." He had smiled and kissed my forehead. A long time ago now. I looked at Father. I touched his bleeding hand, how long does it take for a body to become cold? and leaned closer to his face, tried to make eye contact, waited to see if he might blink, might recognize me. I wiped my hand across my mouth, tasted blood. My heart beat nightmares, gallop, gallop, as I looked at Father again, watched blood river down his neck and disappear into suit cloth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked. I walked out of the room, closed the door behind me and made my way to the back stairs, shouted once more to Bridget, "Quickly. Someone's killed Father." I wiped my hand across my mouth, licked my teeth. Bridget came down, brought with her the smell of decayed meaty-meat. "Miss Lizzie, what . . ." "He's in the sitting room." I pointed through thick, wallpapered walls. "Who is?" Bridget's face, prickly with confusion. "I thought he looked hurt but I wasn't sure how badly until I got close," I said. Summer heat ran up my neck like a knife. My hands ached. "Miss Lizzie, yer scarin' me." "Father's in the sitting room." It was difficult to say anything else. Bridget ran from the back stairs through the kitchen and I followed her. She ran to the sitting room door, put her hand on the door knob, turn it, turn it. "His face has been cut." There was a part of me that wanted to push Bridget into the room, make her see what I had found. Excerpted from See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt 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.
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  New York Times Review

BLACK DETROIT: A People's History of Self-Determination, by Herb Boyd. (Amistad/HarperCollins, $16.99.) Boyd weaves the lives of standout African-American figures into this history of the city, tracing its evolution from a French trading post to a symbol of decline. From the country's first black auto dealer to Michigan's first black obstetrician, characters who might have otherwise remained on history's sidelines are the heart of Boyd's history. GOODBYE, VITAMIN, by Rachel Khong. (Picador, $16.) In the wake of a breakup, Ruth - 30, adrift and heartbroken - returns home to care for her father, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The novel takes the form of Ruth's diary over that year, resulting in a poignant and even darkly comic exploration of adulthood, relationships and memory. THE WRITTEN WORLD: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, and Civilization, by Martin Puchner. (Random House, $20.) Puchner, an English professor at Harvard, makes the case for literature's all-importance to societies and the shape of humanity's history. His research has taken him to every continent, in the search for sacred and foundational texts, and spans centuries, from Mesopotamia to Cervantes to Harry Potter. SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, by Sarah Schmidt. (Grove, $16.) Schmidt revisits the unsolved Fall River murders at the center of Lizzie Borden's life: In Massachusetts in 1892, Lizzie's father and stepmother were hacked to death. Schmidt imagines the lead-up to the grisly crime, and Lizzie's possible madness. Our reviewer, Patrick McGrath, called the novel "a lurid and original work of horror," which evokes "the disintegrating character of this sweltering, unhygienic and claustrophobic household of locked doors and repressed emotions." HUNGER: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay. (Harper Perennial, $16.99.) Reflecting on her life through the lens of her body, Gay engages with questions about desire, nourishment and protection. As Carina Chocano wrote here, the memoir reads like Gay's "victorious, if not frictionless, journey back to herself, back into her body, from the splitting off of trauma. Is the responsibility for her body really hers alone?" THE MISFORTUNE OF MARION PALM, by Emily Culliton (Vintage, $15.95.) In this debut novel, a Brooklyn mother has embezzled a modest amount from her children's private school. When it faces an audit, she leaves her family behind and goes on the lam. As she tries to carve out a new place in the world, Marion turns out to be a delightful antiheroine and defies expectation at every turn.

  Publishers Weekly Review

Schmidt's unforgettable debut brings a legendary American crime to eerie new life. Four narrators recount events surrounding the 1892 murders of Andrew and Abby Borden: Lizzie Borden; her older sister, Emma; and the family's maid, Bridget Sullivan, are within the Massachusetts home in which the deaths occurred. The fourth, a young man known only as Benjamin, is a stranger to everyone in the family but the sisters' maternal uncle, who is visiting at the time of the tragedy. Though their interpretations of events differ, all describe roiling tensions. The manipulative, nearly feral Lizzie is forever scarred by her mother's early death, while Emma longs for an artistic life uncomplicated by her sister's outsized presence. Their relationship with their father and stepmother is fractured: Andrew Borden is a miserly, abusive man who thinks nothing of beheading the pet pigeons Lizzie loves, and his second wife, Abby, has never gained her stepdaughters' trust. On August 4, family conflicts erupt in a chain of events that is as intricate as it is violent. Equally compelling as a whodunit, "whydunit," and historical novel, the book honors known facts yet fearlessly claims its own striking vision. Even before the murders, the Bordens' cruel, claustrophobic lives are not easy to visit, but from them Schmidt has crafted a profoundly vivid and convincing fictional world. Agent: Dan Lazar, Writers House. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Summary
Lizzie Borden took an ax<br> And gave her mother forty whacks<br> When she saw what she had done,<br> She gave her father forty-one. <br> <br> Or did she? <br> <br> In this riveting debut novel, See What I Have Done , Sarah Schmidt recasts one of the most fascinating murder cases of all time into an intimate story of a volatile household and a family devoid of love.<br> <br> On the morning of August 4, 1892, Lizzie Borden calls out to her maid: Someone's killed Father . The brutal ax-murder of Andrew and Abby Borden in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts, leaves little evidence and many unanswered questions. While neighbors struggle to understand why anyone would want to harm the respected Bordens, those close to the family have a different tale to tell--of a father with an explosive temper; a spiteful stepmother; and two spinster sisters, with a bond even stronger than blood, desperate for their independence.<br> <br> As the police search for clues, Emma comforts an increasingly distraught Lizzie whose memories of that morning flash in scattered fragments. Had she been in the barn or the pear arbor to escape the stifling heat of the house? When did she last speak to her stepmother? Were they really gone and would everything be better now? Shifting among the perspectives of the unreliable Lizzie, her older sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, and the enigmatic stranger Benjamin, the events of that fateful day are slowly revealed through a high-wire feat of storytelling.
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