Literature

The God of Nightmares by Paula Fox

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By Paula Fox

"Vividly rendered...haunting....[Paula Fox] writes with silken ease and a sensitivity to nuance."—Newsday In 1941, twenty-three-year-old Helen Bynum leaves domestic for the 1st time and units out from rural big apple to discover her Aunt Lulu, an getting older actress in New Orleans. There she unearths a lifetime of ardour and experience, chances and offerings. Falling in with a bohemian workforce of intellectuals, she discovers romance and intercourse, friendship and threat, her global reflected by way of the steamy secret of the French region.

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But the structure is too clearly foregrounded, the style excessively mannered; and the characters fall into postures of survival after 9/11 that are too familiar to invite much more than a gesture of recognition from the reader. Here, for instance, is one character falling back on the game of poker as his refuge: The money mattered but not so much. The game mattered, the touch of felt beneath the hands, the way the dealer burnt one card, dealt the next. He wasn’t playing for the money. He was playing for the chips.

In the produce section in the bottom of the bins they found a few ancient runner beans and what looked to have once been apricots, long dried to wrinkled effigies of themselves …. In the alleyway behind the store a few shopping carts, all badly rusted. … By the door were two softdrink machines that had been tilted over into the floor and opened with a prybar. Coins everywhere in the ash. He sat and ran his hand around the works of the gutted machines and in the second one it closed over a cold metal cylinder.

Indd 36 1/13/2011 7:13:51 PM Imagining Disaster the protagonist of All the Pretty Horses traverses. But it is reasserted more insistently and more powerfully than ever before here. The Road is set in some strange, post-apocalyptic landscape. There are no birds or animals left alive. Most of the trees and many of the buildings have been destroyed, burned to extinction. And the air is filled with ash, requiring those who survive to wear face masks so as to filter the noxious air they breathe. Ash is everywhere – this is F.

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