A Novel

Average Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
Baker & Taylor
In 1938, Francis Phelan, a murderer, is reduced to flop houses and hobo jungles and returns to a depressed Albany, where--as a gravedigger--he shuffles his rag tag way to survival

Publisher: New York : Viking Press, 1983
ISBN: 0670401765
Characteristics: 227 p. ; 22 cm.


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Jul 19, 2014
  • callaottawa rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

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
  • lukasevansherman rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

"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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