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American Purgatorio: A Novel

Haskell, John

416 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0374104328 / ISBN 13: 9780374104320
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Browsers' Bookstore, CBA (Corvallis, OR, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since November 23, 2001

Quantity Available: 1

About this Item

Signed. First Edition. First edition. Flatsigned by the author on the title page. Fine copy in fine dust jacket. Though not marked, from the collection of Mel Waggoner, host of the public radio program "Profiles" which interviewed authors. Bookseller Inventory # mon0000088263

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Bibliographic Details

Title: American Purgatorio: A Novel

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publication Date: 2005

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

A mesmerizing first novel about a man, a woman, and a disappearance.

"I'm from Chicago originally. I went to New York, married a girl named Anne, and was in the middle of living happily ever after when something happened."

So begins John Haskell's mesmerizing first novel, American Purgatorio, the story of a happily married man who discovers, as he walks out of a convenience store, that his life has suddenly vanished. In cool, precise prose, written as both a detective story and a meditation on the seven deadly sins, Haskell tells a story that is by turns tragic and comic, compassionate and gripping. From the brownstones of New York City to the sandy beaches of Southern California, American Purgatorio follows the journey of a man whose object of desire is both heartbreaking and ephemeral. It confirms John Haskell's reputation as one of our most intriguing new writers, "one of those rare authors who makes language seem limitless in its possibilities" (Susan Reynolds, Los Angeles Times).
John Haskell is the author of a short-story collection, I Am Not Jackson Pollack. His work has appeared in Granta, The Paris Review, Conjunctions, The Believer, and Ploughshares. He is a contributor to the radio show The Next Best Thing. He lives in Brooklyn.
"I'm from Chicago originally. I went to New York, married a girl named Anne, and was in the middle of living happily ever after when something happened."

So begins John Haskell's mesmerizing first novel, American Purgatorio, the story of a man who discovers, as he walks out of a convenience store, that his life has suddenly vanished. In cool, precise prose, Haskell tells a tale—at once a detective story and a mediation on the seven deadly sins—that is by turns tragic and comic, compassionate and gripping. From the brownstones of New York City to the sandy beaches of Southern California, American Purgatorio follows the journey of a man whose object of desire is both heartbreaking and ephemeral. It confirms John Haskell's reputation as one of our most intriguing new writers, "one of those rare authors who makes language seem limitless in its possibilities (Susan Salter Reynold, Los Angeles Times).
"American Purgatorio, John Haskell's gutsy, weirdly engrossing first novel, is a domestic interpretation of Dante. It's a road story divided into seven sections, each named for a deadly sin, with a hero, Jack, who pursues his lost love from Brooklyn to San Diego . . . Haskell, the author of a quirky collection of stories, I Am Not Jackson Pollack, can offer startling visual detail . . . Turn the last page, and you'll realize that this strange, moving book has done just what a first novel should: it has left an impression."—Taylor Antrim, The New York Times Book Review "If it's not for his poignant and unmatched blend of pop culture and literary intelligence, then the reason Haskell is the United States' most significant new voice is because of sentences like this one: 'As I watched her walk I told myself, This is what I have to do, meaning, This is what I feel, meaning, This is who I think I have to be.'"—Lee Henderson, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)   "Haskell, whose short story collection I Am Not Jackson Pollock promised the raw wit of thirtysomething passive-aggressive lit, now proves that he can keep it going for the novel, adding mystery and kindness to his palette."—Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times

"Haunting . . . It would have been easy for John Haskell to turn this novel into a mere literary trick, drawing in the reader with technical virtuosity. But the grace of it all is that he infuses this strange world with the sense of consequence, that as the novel progresses, we become more invested in the narrator's life, more weighted with the sense of his loss. Haskell puts his finger on the anxiety of the present moment, the struggle to remain there, holding onto those little glimpses of wisdom that seems to vanish as quickly as they arrive."—Susan Larson, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

"This first novel by the author of the story collection I Am Not Jackson Pollock has a riveting beginning: the narrator walks out of a service center on a New Jersey parkway to discover that his wife, Anne, has disappeared in their car. Unable to wait for an explanation, he purchases a used car from a neighbor and begins a journey from New York to San Diego that is dictated by coincidence and his determined belief that Anne is still alive. Each chapter is loosely based on one of the seven deadly sins and levels from Dante's Purgatorio and is populated by various characters, especially women who have some mystical relationship to Anne that the narrator tries to interpret. The tone becomes foreboding as he struggles to define reality and what inhabits only his imagination. 'Like sunscreen,' he reasons, 'you have to put up a shield or membrane that keeps that side or that thought or that vision from disrupting what's on this side.' Characters like the homeless beggar Polino and the complex and sometimes comical plot keep the reader glued to every page until the astonishing ending. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"A man scrutinizes what it means to live and love during a cross-country search for his missing wife in a prickly, penetrating novel by the author of I Am Not Jackson Pollock. After stopping for gas on his way to his mother-in-law's house, the narrator, Jack, emerges from a convenience store to find that his car and his wife, Anne, are nowhere to be found. After making his way back home, Jack discovers a U.S. map marked with an apparent route; imagining that this will lead him to his wife, he buys another car and sets off. Haskell twists the essential mystery—what happened to Anne?—into a meticulous, probing investigation of one man's desires, fears and coping mechanisms, a tactic that somewhat slows the narrative but results in existential chewiness. As Jack makes his way to Kentucky, Colorado, California, he encounters odd but sympathetic strangers, many of whom are likewise journeying, most of whom aid him and some of whom seem like reflections of himself. The cool, intentionally deadened prose can make for difficult reading; that Haskell turns the notion of the unreliable narrator on its head not once but twice will redeem everything for some readers and make others feel tricked. Chapters named for the seven deadly sins (in Latin) signal Jack's path through pride and sloth, through a world that feels both banally familiar and utterly alien—an American purgatory—in this strange and compelling novel."—Publishers Weekly

About the Author:

John Haskell is the author of a short-story collection, I Am Not Jackson Pollock (FSG, 2003). His work has appeared in Granta, The Paris Review, Conjunctions and Ploughshares. He is a contributor to the radio show The Next Big Thing. He lives in Brooklyn.

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