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The More I Owe You

A Novel

List Price: $15.95

May 25, 2010 | Paperback | 5.5 x 8.2, 320 Pages | ISBN 9781582435763
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“Wonderfully evocative.” —New York Times Book Review

In this mesmerizing debut novel, Michael Sledge creates an intimate portrait of the beloved poet Elizabeth Bishop—of her life in Brazil and her relationship with her lover, the dazzling, aristocratic Lota de Macedo Soares. Sledge artfully draws from Bishop’s lifelong correspondences and biography to imagine the poet’s intensely private world, revealing the literary genius who lived in conflict with herself both as a writer and as a woman.

A seemingly idyllic existence in Soares’s glass house in the jungle gives way to the truth of Bishop’s lifelong battle with alcoholism, as well as her eventual status as one of modernism’s most prominent writers. Though connected to many of the most famous cultural and political figures of the era, Soares too is haunted by her own demons. As their secrets unfold, the sensuous landscape of Rio de Janeiro, the rhythms of the samba and the bossa nova, and the political turmoil of 1950s Brazil envelop Bishop in a world she never expected to inhabit. The More I Owe You is a vivid portrait of two brilliant women whose love for one another pushes them to accomplish enduring works of art.

MICHAEL SLEDGE is the author of a memoir, Mother and Son, and has contributed to a number of literary journals. He is co-founder of the Oaxifornia arts studio in Oaxaca, Mexico, and lives in both Mexico and Oakland, California. This is his first novel.


“Wonderfully evocative.” —New York Times Book Review

“A beautiful homage at the centenary of the poet.” —ELLE Brasil

“Sledge does a remarkable job of conjuring [Bishop’s] world. Readers swoon for the sounds and rhythms of Brazilian life just as Elizabeth did. His prose is no mere imitation of Bishop’s voice… An intoxicating read.” —Lambda Literary Review

“In The More I Owe You, Sledge—author of the memoir Mother and Son, who lives in Oakland and Oaxaca, Mexico—has achieved something exceptional. Never sacrificing complexity or intellectual rigor, he’s made this powerful story accessible (and almost addictively engrossing) for both newcomers and Bishop aficionados.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“If you could hold a seashell to your ear and hear an account of a poet’s life, it might have the exquisite depth and simplicity of Michael Sledge’s The More I Owe You… [a] stunning, heartbreaking novel itself: hard to let go of, and impossible to forget.” —The Rumpus

“Sledge’s cinematic novel is as lush and fecund as the jungle itself, with its innumerable fruits, ferns, and hidden dangers, leaving readers with the indelible image of a brilliant, tormented woman writing tirelessly through the tropic night by the light of a kerosene lamp… Strong and intoxicating.” —Booklist

“A moving novel of an illicit and impassioned relationship.” —Kirkus 

“Sledge is a wonderfully sensitive and eloquent writer, able to capture the dangers, as well as the dizzy delights, of creativity and love. The More I Owe You is a novel of great beauty and tremendous charm.” —Sarah Waters, author of The Night Watch

“Two very different women—fueled by mutual need, exalted by desire, undone by demons—are exuberantly brought to life in this darkly beautiful novel. A bold and lovely act of biographical conjuring, The More I Owe You is superb.” —Paul Russell, author of The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov

“A novel of extraordinary beauty, intimacy, and such consummate tenderness for its complex Elizabeth that one wonders how Sledge managed to slide so close to her soul. 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

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