Guide American Purgatorio

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John Haskell creates an allegory for our uncertain times with his Zen riff on the classical quest novel, American Purgatorio, says Sean O'Hagan.
Table of contents

Haskell's writing throughout has a floating, impressionistic quality, but Jack's often illogical interior monologue may test the patience of some readers, his thoughts unravelling into abstraction as he crosses an ever-changing, but uniformly similar, terrain of empty, brightly lit cityscapes, sprawling low-rise suburbs and long stretches of desert freeway.

  1. The Masters Memoirs Vol. II, Recovery;
  2. American Purgatorio by John Haskell.
  3. The Power of God.
  4. Die Abenteuerin (German Edition).
  5. Adrift on the road to nowhere?
  6. The Omega Rebellion.
  7. Baltimore Catechism (Complete).

Jack's passivity, which only makes sense in the light of the novel's revelatory ending, is such that he embraces whatever this shadow-world throws at him. At one point, he engages in peyote-fuelled sexual experimentation with a hippie couple at some kind of new age gathering and one expects some kind of epiphany. Instead, enlightenment eludes him and he continues to exist in a curious emotional hinterland where the most that he can feel is a kind of detached curiosity.

American purgatorio

As he travels further out - and further in - he sheds his possessions, ditching even his car, the ultimate symbol of American freedom. On he walks, thinking and remembering, and all the while becoming more unmoored from his thoughts, from his former, grounded life. For most of its free-floating narrative, American Purgatorio is a Zen riff on the classical quest novel, its title a nod to Dante, its chapter headings lifted from the seven deadly sins. In the final pages, though, the story shifts uneasily into a very contemporary ghost story.

They all happen and then they're gone. Clouds, people, buildings, laughter, darkness. It all happens and then it's gone. From a leafy block in Brooklyn to the beaches of Southern California, he searches desperately, and his journey is both heroic and heartbreaking.


His peregrinations are linked to the seven deadly sins, and he encounters a strange cast of characters until he arrives, brokenhearted and broke, on the beaches of San Diego. What he discovers along the way is that memory is often selective and revelatory, that strangers are not always kind but they often are , and that life-changing experiences good and bad can be just around the corner.

A man scrutinizes what it means to live and love during a cross-country search for his missing wife in a prickly, penetrating novel by the author of I Am Not Jackson Pollock.

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  • Secrète alliance (Saga LHéritier des Maitland vol.11) (Dynasties) (French Edition).
  • Guidance for the Seasons of Life (Adult Bible Study Guides).
  • American Purgatorio.
  • After stopping for gas on his way to his mother-in-law's house, the narrator, Jack, emerges from a convenience store to find that his car and his wife, Anne, are nowhere to be found. After making his way back home, Jack discovers a U.

    Haskell twists the essential mystery-what happened to Anne? As Jack makes his way to Kentucky, Colorado, California, he encounters odd but sympathetic strangers, many of whom are likewise journeying, most of whom aid him and some of whom seem like reflections of himself. The cool, intentionally deadened prose can make for difficult reading; that Haskell turns the notion of the unreliable narrator on its head not once but twice will redeem everything for some readers and make others feel tricked.

    Chapters named for the seven deadly sins in Latin signal Jack's path through pride and sloth, through a world that feels both banally familiar and utterly alien-an American purgatory-in this strange and compelling novel. Agent, Derek Johns at A.

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    This first novel by the author of the story collection I Am Not Jackson Pollock has a riveting beginning: Unable to wait for an explanation, he purchases a used car from a neighbor and begins a journey from New York to San Diego that is dictated by coincidence and his determined belief that Anne is still alive. Each chapter is loosely based on one of the seven deadly sins and levels from Dante's Purgatorio and is populated by various characters, especially women who have some mystical relationship to Anne that the narrator tries to interpret.

    The tone becomes foreboding as he struggles to define reality and what inhabits only his imagination.


    Thank you for using the catalog. Missing persons -- Fiction.