An ordinary life

Someone (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013), the latest novel from Alice McDermott, a Writing Seminars professor in the Krieger School, was shortlisted for the 2013 National Book Award, and given the way her quietly profound sentences carve out a monumental grandeur, it's easy to see why. In it, Marie Commeford, McDermott's remarkably unremarkable creation here, recounts her life, from her Brooklyn childhood between the wars through marriage, motherhood, and old age. It's deceptively simple: Marie is an ordinary woman, but in allowing her to chronicle her richly nuanced interior life, McDermott allows one of those characters from life's margins to occupy center stage in that epic journey that takes place between life and death.