The Conditions of Love

The Conditions of Love traces the journey of a girl from childhood to adulthood as she reckons with her need to break from society’s limitations and learns to reconcile with her fate and transcend the past.

Dale Kushner’s first novel will appeal to the same audience that embraced Mona Simpson’s acclaimed classic Anywhere But Here and Elizabeth Strout’s bestselling Amy And Isabelle.

Invite Dale Kushner to join your book group, podcast, or blog, to discuss the compelling themes of THE CONDITIONS OF LOVE, including resilience, mother-daughter relationships, the ever-changing landscapes of love. Dale is also available for interviews. You can contact Dale here

Can this wise, funny, quirky, poignant novel really be Dale Kushner’s debut? She got everything just right—characters who you will never forget and a palpable yearning for love that you will feel in your gut. Bravo!

Ann Hood, author of An Italian Wife and The Obituary Writer

“Kushner has an amazing sense of character and not only her heroine, the fearless Eunice, but everyone the Eunice encounters comes vividly to life as she struggles first to accommodate herself to her mother’s tumultuous feelings and then to make her own way in the world. An immaculately written, enthralling and passionate debut.”

Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy and The Boy in the Field

“The Conditions of Love has a magical quality…a careful reading reveals how Kushner uses elements of fable and myth to cast a spell on her readers, taking them to a place that both is and is not the rural Midwest of the 1950s.” —Isthmus

The Conditions of Love was published by Grand Central Publishing.

You can order it now at Indiebound, Bookshop. Barnes & Nobleor Amazon.

Read a Q&A with Dale M. Kushner here.

Download the Reading Group Guide to The Conditions of Love here.

Listen to the beginning of the Audiobook version of The Conditions of Love by Dale Kushner narrated by Tara Ochs:

The full audiobook is available at Audible.com

Excerpt from The Conditions of Love

From Section One

Mern: Via Separatio

The Big Bum, she called my daddy. “Let me set the record straight on that Big Bum,” she’d say. “He stranded us when you were a mere squirt in diapers. Up and vamoosed in his goddamn got-no-words-for-it-babe way. No note. Nothing!” He’d left a hundred bucks tied with a white ribbon, five twenties, in a fry pan. My father, it should be noted, had a showman’s touch. The story of his departure grew more elaborate, more pathetic and heartrending with each passing year. Occasionally my mother conceded he had a big heart. Then she’d add he had a Big Something Else, too, and the Big Something Else got him into trouble. “A big something else?” I’d ask, concerned. “Yeah,” Mern would say, her nostrils pinched from despair. “What would you know?” A wave of self-sorrow would sweep over her, and she’d grab at the nearest soft thing, me, and smother my face against her scrawny chest.

From Section Three

Fox: Coniunctio

Slowly the second time, like the slowness of a new creation, a different story than the old creation in which God made the universe one, two, three. Our god—Fox’s and mine—marveled for eons over the beauty of his creations. Our god took his time enjoying awe. There was the wonder of rapturous sensations, contradictory and compelling, their final authority over me, the wonder of being two Eunices, one enthralled, the other cataloging her pleasure, as if some part was a turbulent wind contained within a vast, calmer atmosphere. The wonder of all those sly, enfolded places, of our bodies, tarnished and gleaming, rubies, iron, salt, and bone.

 


A teenage girl endures fire, flood and the loss of her parents in this bracing, oddly uplifting debut.

Kushner seems to have taken more than a few lessons from Joyce Carol Oates about both crafting a novel with a broad scope and putting female characters through the wringer. But there’s also a lightness to Eunice’s narration that keeps the Job-ian incidents from feeling oppressive—she’s observant, witty and genuinely matures across the nine years in which the novel is set… Kushner is remarkably poised for a first-time novelist, offering an interesting adolescent who’s possessed of more than a little of Huck Finn’s pioneer spirit.

A fine exploration of growing up, weathering heartbreak and picking oneself up over and over.

Kirkus Reviews

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Eunice grows up fighting for love from the people who should love her unconditionally but is bolstered by love from unexpected sources…Eunice is a lonely, artistic girl who grows into a temperamental young woman whose strength and capacity for love belie her tough upbringing. This is poet Kushner’s first novel, and her roots show; passages describing even the bleakest Midwestern landscapes are artfully drawn. A coming-of-age story that wonderfully combines literary style with heartbreaking plot twists and still manages to be uplifting—

Booklist

The Conditions of Love is the debut novel of Dale M. Kushner, a poet and writer in Wisconsin. It moves slowly and gingerly during its opening section when Eunice is a preteen, and it might easily be viewed at the start as a coming-of-age book for a younger set of readers. But by the end of that section, when facts-of-life shocks begin to strike, it turns into a moving, at times jolting, saga.

Kushner’s scenes, like her characters, are expertly sketched, vivid and memorable. . . .  Engrossing to the end, this is a fine first novel.

Kendall Weaver, The Associated Press

Kushner deftly captures Eunice in all her awkward years as well as her adult relationship with Fox. The setting—small-town Midwest—means that Eunice remains almost untouched by social and political events of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Instead, the period comes out in the small details…This is a beautifully written book, demanding time and attention.

It’s a tribute to Dale Kushner’s talent that in her debut novel, The Conditions of Love, she can pack so much emotional reality in so few words: maternal narcissism in a sentence, family dysfunction in a paragraph.

Review in THE RUMPUS by Kevin O’Kelly

“In The Conditions of Love Dale Kushner portrays with wonderful empathy a young girl’s journey towards adulthood. Kushner has an amazing sense of character and not only her heroine, the fearless Eunice, but everyone that Eunice encounters comes vividly to life as she struggles first to accommodate herself to her mother’s tumultuous feelings and then to make her own way in the world. An immaculately written, enthralling and passionate debut.”

Margot Livesey, author of Mercury, The Flight of Gemma Hardy and The House on Fortune Street

“Can this wise, funny, quirky, poignant novel really be Dale Kushner’s debut? She got everything just right–characters who you will never forget and a palpable yearning for love that you will feel in your gut. Bravo!”

Ann Hood, author of An Italian Wife, The Knitting Circle and The Obituary Writer

With her debut novel, The Conditions of Love, poet Dale M. Kushner has created a layered examination of love in all its forms and how it impacts and shapes one girl in the late 1950s and early 1960s from childhood to maturity.. . .

This is a book that begs to be read slowly. Kushner’s history with poetry serves her well. Her prose causes the reader to slow down and relish the words. She utilizes the five senses throughout the book, which gives the reader a sense of real intimacy with Eunice. She beautifully recounts the physical act of Eunice’s neighbor, Mr. Tabachnik, putting on an opera record, and then she tops it by describing the powerful music washing over a young Eunice.

The Conditions of Love is an engaging story written in a lyrical style. It’s a stunningly self-assured novel for a debut, and it leaves the reader hoping that Kushner will write a second.

Josh Mallory, Bookreporter

“Dale Kushner is a remarkable mix of passion and perception. As a storyteller, she has the ability to let the mysterious force of life show itself through the smallest piece of dirt or doubt. Her depth and experience surface through her writing as a wise companion to help us on our way.”

Mark Nepo, author of The Book of Awakening and As Far As the Heart Can See


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