Joyce Carol Oates My Heart Laid Bare

ISBN 13: 9780062269256

My Heart Laid Bare

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9780062269256: My Heart Laid Bare

Finally returned to print in a beautiful paperback edition, a haunting gothic tale of a nineteenth-century immigrant family of confidence artists—a story of morality, duplicity, and retribution that explores the depths of human manipulation and vulnerability

The patriarch of the Licht family, Abraham has raised a brood of talented con artists, children molded in his image, and experts in The Game, his calling and philosophy of life. Traveling from one small town to the next across the continent, from the Northeast to the frontier West, they skillfully swindle unsuspecting victims, playing on their greed, lust, pride, and small-mindedness. Despite their success, Abraham cannot banish a past that haunts him: the ghost of his ancestor Sarah Licht, a former con woman who met with a gruesome fate.

As Abraham involves his family in more and more complex and impressive schemes, he finds himself caught between the specter of Sarah and the growing terrors of his present. While his carefully crafted lies and schemes begin to fracture and disintegrate before his eyes, Abraham discovers that the bond of family is as tenuous and treacherous as the tricks he perpetrates upon unsuspecting strangers.

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Review:

In this Joyce Carol Oates's novel, a New England confidence man teaches his children the tricks of his trade and sends them out into the world to relieve suckers of their money. The book traces the Licht family's fortunes through the first three decades of the 20th century, as the children come of age, master their talents, and grow away from their father's beliefs. Abraham Licht is a charming but sinister man who is extremely attached to the haunted swamp adjacent to the family home. He schools his children in the arts of assuming new identities and turning one's back on the past, skills which Oates suggests come quite easily to Americans. Licht advises his youngest son, a boy ill-suited to grift, to "assemble your selves with grace," by which he means, be duplicitous and excel at it! Do not bare your heart! However, Abraham's lessons don't stick--one by one, Papa Licht's children let him down. The youngest son becomes a talented musician and composer, while the younger sister devotes herself to a life of helping others as a nurse and suffragette. The other children stick to grift but distance themselves from their father, which breaks his devilish heart. My Heart Laid Bare is a tragic family epic. It is a complicated, ambitious book crammed with ideas, crisply drawn characters, and American history. As Oates unfurls the tragedy, she describes many of the social movements of the early 20th century and posits that this country was shaped by charming, talented liars like the Lichts. --Jill Marquis

About the Author:

Joyce Carol Oates is a recipient of the National Medal of Humanities, the National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction. She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.

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Book Description Ecco Press, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 206 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Finally returned to print in a beautiful paperback edition, a haunting gothic tale of a nineteenth-century immigrant family of confidence artists--a story of morality, duplicity, and retribution that explores the depths of human manipulation and vulnerability The patriarch of the Licht family, Abraham has raised a brood of talented con artists, children molded in his image, and experts in The Game, his calling and philosophy of life. Traveling from one small town to the next across the continent, from the Northeast to the frontier West, they skillfully swindle unsuspecting victims, playing on their greed, lust, pride, and small-mindedness. Despite their success, Abraham cannot banish a past that haunts him: the ghost of his ancestor Sarah Licht, a former con woman who met with a gruesome fate. As Abraham involves his family in more and more complex and impressive schemes, he finds himself caught between the specter of Sarah and the growing terrors of his present. While his carefully crafted lies and schemes begin to fracture and disintegrate before his eyes, Abraham discovers that the bond of family is as tenuous and treacherous as the tricks he perpetrates upon unsuspecting strangers. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780062269256

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Book Description Ecco Press, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 206 x 135 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Finally returned to print in a beautiful paperback edition, a haunting gothic tale of a nineteenth-century immigrant family of confidence artists--a story of morality, duplicity, and retribution that explores the depths of human manipulation and vulnerability The patriarch of the Licht family, Abraham has raised a brood of talented con artists, children molded in his image, and experts in The Game, his calling and philosophy of life. Traveling from one small town to the next across the continent, from the Northeast to the frontier West, they skillfully swindle unsuspecting victims, playing on their greed, lust, pride, and small-mindedness. Despite their success, Abraham cannot banish a past that haunts him: the ghost of his ancestor Sarah Licht, a former con woman who met with a gruesome fate. As Abraham involves his family in more and more complex and impressive schemes, he finds himself caught between the specter of Sarah and the growing terrors of his present. While his carefully crafted lies and schemes begin to fracture and disintegrate before his eyes, Abraham discovers that the bond of family is as tenuous and treacherous as the tricks he perpetrates upon unsuspecting strangers. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780062269256

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