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Oates, Joyce Carol

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ISBN 10: 0525944427 / ISBN 13: 9780525944423
Published by Dutton, New York, NY, U.S.A., 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Joe Staats, Bookseller (Los Angeles, CA, U.S.A.)

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Signed by author on title page in black ink. Fine, unread copy, in fine, mylar-protected dust jacket. L18. Bookseller Inventory # 6468

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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: Dutton, New York, NY, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition, First Printing

About this title


Chronicles the endeavors of the Licht family--a clan of cheats, murderers, and con men--from the late eighteenth century through the 1930s, and details the moral consequences of their crimes and transgressions


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

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