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The World Is the Home of Love and Death Paperback – October 15, 1998

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Editorial Reviews Review

The literary world waited a long time for Harold Brodkey's first novel, The Runaway Soul, and perhaps that 25-year wait raised expectations much too high; published in 1991, the 800-page book received mixed reviews. Though The Runaway Soul eventually came to an end, the life of its protagonist, Wiley Silenowicz, goes on in this posthumously published collection of short stories, The World Is the Home of Love and Death.

All of Brodkey's considerable strengths and occasional weaknesses are on display in these stories: brilliant language and an acute understanding of character illuminate tales of orphaned Wiley and his adopted family, the Silenowiczes: his mercurial father, S.L.; seductive mother Ida; and vengeful sister Nonie. But if the writing and characterization are brilliant, Brodkey's penchant for dragging out the tiniest moment through incessant examination can be trying for readers hoping for some forward motion in the narrative. Plot is not one of Brodkey's strong points, but the beauty of his writing renders readers willing to be swept along on the sheer force of his prose. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The final collection of a master.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (October 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805059997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805059991
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Harold Brodkey (1930-1996) was born Aaron Roy Weintrub into a Midwestern Jewish family. Both of his parents were recent immigrants from Russia, and after the death of his mother when he was not yet two years old, he was adopted by the Brodkeys, who were cousins on his father's side. After graduating from Harvard in 1952, he moved to New York and came to prominence as a writer in the early 1950s, publishing collections such as Stories in an Almost Classical Mode and novels including Profane Friendship. Widely acknowledged as a modern master of short fiction, and the winner of two PEN/O. Henry Awards, Brodkey contributed regularly to the New Yorker and other publications. A long-time resident of New York City, Brodkey was married to novelist Ellen Schwamm. He announced in 1993 that he had contracted AIDS, and he died of complications from the virus in 1996.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Harold Brodkey seemed to affect readers by creating a spectrum beginning with those who fell under his spell and these who felt his work was overrated and too difficult to understand. Now some 15 years after his death in some of his lesser known books, like this collection of short stories THE WORLD IS THE HOME OF LOVE AND DEATH, his gifts as a writer are being more widely appreciated. Long considered one of the more powerful writer of short stories, this collection continues to substantiate that position. Brodkey's style varies from most writers in that he concentrates on creating individuals that in and of themselves are more important than the story in which he places them. Few writers have coped with the dichotomy of sexual identification as well as Brodkey and some of his best work is keyed toward characters who face that 'public conspiracy of acceptance'.

Brodkey has a way with picking up the atmosphere of the most mundane of topics such as cocktail conversation and creates dialogues and character responses to dialogues about the vitriol that spews forth as the alcohol level elevates as in 'A Guest in the Universe' and also in 'Dumbness Is Everything'. But he also is able to crawl into the mind of the near mute character lost in thought and describe the world through eyes as few have accomplished: 'What I Do for Money' is the extended musings of an ordinary office worker who is coping with his newly diagnosed brain tumor and the manner in which he alters his view of others and of the possible roads he could take, given his diagnosis.

In each of these eleven stories Harold Brodkey manages to override the importance of the story line he is molding by treating the reader to a level of prose that is as captivating as that of any more famous author.
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