A Novel

Book - 1984
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Winner of The Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

In this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the third in Kennedy's Albany cycle, Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, and full-time bum with the gift of gab, has hit bottom. Years earlier he'd left Albany after he dropped his infant son accidentally, and the boy died.  Now, in 1938, Francis is back in town, roaming the old familiar streets with his hobo pal, Helen, trying to make peace with the ghosts of the past and present.
Publisher: Middlesex, England ; New York, N.Y. : Penguin Books, 1984, c1983
ISBN: 9780140070200
Branch Call Number: KENNEDY W
PS3561.E428 I7 1984x
Characteristics: 227 p. ; 20 cm


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Jul 19, 2014

The quality of the writing was excellent but I found the plot rather monotonous and I was skipping over large parts and worse yet, I skipped to the ending. Never a good sign.

Jul 19, 2014

"He smelled the odor that came up from his fetid crotch and stood up then and dropped his trousers. . .He lifted the toilet cover and sat on the seat, and with Jack's soap and handfuls of water from the bowl, he washed his genitals and buttocks, and all their encrusted orifices, crevices, and secret folds."
I suppose this is a good example of what is sometimes called "dirty realism." And this is a book about dirty, unhappy people living in Albany, where many of Kennedy's books are set, during the depression. It was highly acclaimed when it came out, winning the Pulitzer, finding a place in Bloom's Western Canon, and becoming a film with Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. I found it well-written, but a bit like Bukowski without the vulgar humor.
"These Albany novels will be memorable, a distinguished group of books."-Saul Bellow.


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