Michael Sledge


The More I Owe You

A Novel

The author of the acclaimed memoir Mother and Son creates an intimate portrait of poet Elizabeth Bishop in this “sensitive and engrossing” debut novel (Publishers Weekly).

“A portrait of the artist as a human—a woman of desire, contradiction, and need.” —A. M. Homes, author of The Mistress’s Daughter Artfully drawing from Elizabeth Bishop’s lifelong correspondences and biography, The More I Owe You explores the modernist poet’s intensely private world, including her life in Brazil and her relationship with her lover, the dazzling, aristocratic Lota de Macedo Soares.

Despite their seemingly idyllic existence in Soares’s glass house in the jungle, Bishop’s lifelong battle with alcoholism rises to the surface. And as the sensuous landscape of Rio de Janeiro, the rhythms of the samba and the bossa nova, and the political turmoil of 1950’s Brazil envelop Bishop, she enters a world she never expected to inhabit . . . A vivid imagining of the tumultuous relationship between two brilliant and artistic women, The More I Owe You reveals Elizabeth Bishop to be a literary genius who lived in conflict with herself, both as a writer and as a woman.

“Real–life poet Elizabeth Bishop is vividly and imaginatively portrayed in Sledge’s debut novel. . . . Strong and intoxicating.” —Booklist

“A gorgeous meditation on enduring love, damage, and what it can be to be happy, for however brief a moment. Bravo, bravo, bravo.” —Stacey D’Erasmo, author of The Sky Below

“A beautiful dream of a book. Sumptuously detailed, deeply felt, it is as if Sledge slipped back in time and walked every step with Elizabeth Bishop, breathed every breath with her.” —Alison Smith, author of Name All the Animals