When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her irresponsible, alcoholic father thrown in jail. Since then, Lucy has become a furious adolescent - raging against middle-class life and provincial American piety - intent on reforming the men around her: especially her incompetent mama's boy of a husband, Roy. As time rolls on, Lucy struggles to free herself of the terrible disappointment engendered by her father, and is forever yearning for the man he could never be. It is with scalpel-like precision that Roth depicts the rage, the hatred and the ferocity of feeling that soon takes hold of Lucy's life.
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In this funny and chilling novel, the setting is a small town in the 1940s Midwest, and the subject is the heart of a wounded and ferociously moralistic young woman, one of those implacable American moralists whose "goodness" is a terrible disease.
When she was still a child, Lucy Nelson had her alcoholic failure of a father thrown in jail. Ever since then she has been trying to reform the men around her, even if that ultimately means destroying herself in the process. With his unerring portraits of Lucy and her hapless, childlike husband, Roy, Roth has created an uncompromising work of fictional realism, a vision of provincial American piety, yearning, and discontent that is at once pitiless and compassionate.
"High, careful tragedy, nasty as life, and Roth emerges...as a Dreiser who can write!" —Stanley Elkin
"Roth is a living master." —Harold Bloom, The New York Review of Books
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