Desperate Characters

Desperate Characters

Book - 1999
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First published in 1970 to wide acclaim, this harrowing novel digs deep into the lives of Otto and Sophie Bentwood, whose seemingly perfect marriage begins to crack much as post-war society is cracking around them.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, 1999
ISBN: 9780393318944
Branch Call Number: Fiction Fox
Characteristics: xiv, 156 p. ; 21 cm


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TSCPL_ChrisB Jun 02, 2016

Fox has an exceptionally strong sense of language. In the brevity of one sentence, she tells entire stories, eliminating the need for bogged-down exposition and unnecessary backstory. Her descriptions do more than paint a scene--they set the mood, tell the history, and develop the characters. One need to only read the descriptions of the Bentwood home, their neighborhood, the hospital, the drive to the Bentwood summer home, and the summer home itself to have an firm idea of the story.
Not much happens in Desperate Characters, which lends to tedium in some scenes. The fact the entire book centers around a bourgeois Brooklyn couple and their response to a cat bite is enough to scare most readers away. Even so, Desperate Characters is likely the best book I've read "seemingly about nothing." Of course, the novel is not about nothing, and it is clever in its indictment of civilization. It is a novel about the end of society and the catastrophes which plague a typical middleclass couple of the 1960s.

Dec 22, 2014

Championed by Franzen, this classic novel is to the 1960s what "Revolutionary Road" was to the 1950s. Beset by a series of mishaps, the fractures in the relationship of the couple about whom the story is about reflect the forebodings of middle class society about their time. Fox certainly can write.


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