The Quick and the Dead

The Quick and the Dead

Book - 2000
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From one of our most heralded writers--Joy Williams belongs, James Salter has written, "in the company of Céline, Flannery O'Connor, and Margaret Atwood"--her first novel in more than a decade: the life-and-death adventures of three misfit teenagers in the American desert. Alice, Corvus, and Annabel, each a motherless child, are an unlikely circle of friends. One filled with convictions, another with loss, the third with a worldly pragmatism, they traverse an air-conditioned landscape eccentric with signs and portents--from the preservation of the living dead in a nursing home to the presentation of the dead as living in a wildlife museum--accompanied by restless, confounded adults. A father lusts after his handsome gardener even as he's haunted (literally) by his dead wife; a heartbroken dog runs afoul of an angry neighbor; a young stroke victim drifts westward, his luck running from worse to awful; a sickly musician for whom Alice develops an attraction is drawn instead toward darker imaginings and solutions; and an aging big-game hunter finds spiritual renewal through his infatuation with an eight-year-old--the formidable Emily Bliss Pickless. With nature thoroughly routed and the ambiguities of existence on full display, life and death continue in directions both invisible and apparent. Gloriously funny and wonderfully serious,The Quick and the Deadlimns the vagaries of love, the thirst for meaning, and the peculiar paths by which all creatures are led to their destiny. A panorama of contemporary life and an endlessly surprising tour de force: penetrating and magical, ominous and comic, this is the most astonishing book yet in Joy Williams's illustrious career.
Publisher: New York : Alfred Knopf, 2000.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780679446460
Branch Call Number: WILL
Characteristics: 308p. 24cm.


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JCLFlanneryC Apr 07, 2020

A whipsmart book, remarkable for both is humor and unsentimental characterization of its precocious child heroes, who are over and over again stunned by the stupidity of the adults around them. A combination of Southwestern gothic/magical realism with environmentalist subtexts. The plot goes nowhere fast but follows the girls in and out of the ludicrous drama around them, as if they were aliens sent to earth to collect the most egregious and unnecessary human behavior. Joy Williams has a keen eye for weirdos, as well as a talent for capturing the landscape around her and its combination of natural beauty and manmade misery.

JCLCassandraG Jul 11, 2019

I love this messy novel where all the characters are crudely constructed from the random horrors of human melancholy, grief, boredom, & (targetless) revenge. Everyone's a little unbelievable--caricatures & voids--which fell more on the side of delight than eyerolly anguish for me, though I'm sure it's not for everyone. The plot never shows up but who can blame it & I didn't much mind because the writing is so good I was willing to live in the exposition. For fans of freaky souls.

Dec 06, 2007

Finalist of the 2001 Pulitzer prize for fiction.


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