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Ironweed: A novel

A book by William J. Kennedy

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A witty and philosophic novel to quench the reading thirst.

  • May 11, 2013
  • by
Rating:
+5
In life, we all make mistakes, some more than others. People do not grow into faultless perfection. That is something that is done through hard work and deep thought, and even then, it is not fully achieved - much to our dismay. People sometimes unsuccessfully surrender themselves to their fantasies, their ideologies, and thus, make big mistakes, for to err is human. The protagonist in William Kennedy's Ironweed - Francis Phelan - is certainly no exception. He is a man who has made one too many mistakes. From the murdering of a scab, to his accidentally killing his son, to taking refuge in alcohol, to family abandonment, it becomes a grim picture of a life not worth living. All this stretches out before and beyond the Great Depression of 1929.

In youth, Francis had looks, health, vitality and a burgeoning baseball career that included such notables like Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins. But then it all disappeared to mediocrity and then into something even less than that. One would figure, like Job in the Bible, Francis would scream, "God, wht hast thou forsaken me?" He does not do that. In that respect, that is what makes this novel so refreshing. It does not evolve into a pity party, although the theme, plot and environment would lead a reader to think otherwise. Francis and his associates, specifically Helen Archer and Rudy, just propel themselves onward, despite or until mental and physical difficulities impede them. The characters don't whine or pout; they just deal with it. When the joys of life ebb away into that which we do not think we can handle, that's when the true self emerges, the thick skin manifests itself during adversity.

Despite what I have written, it is not all grim and tragic. Far from it. In darkness there is light, and that is especially true in the latter part of the book. The jocularity of the dialogue and semi jocund personalities of the characters give this novel an uplifting air of hope and possibility. And it makes one belive that no matter how dark our times may be, no matter how tragic our circumstances are, somewhere, in the far off distance, there is a gleaming ray of hope at the end of the tunnel.

A witty and philosophic novel to quench the reading thirst.

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More Ironweed: A novel reviews
review by . January 04, 2001
In life, we all make mistakes, some more than others. People do not grow into faultless perfection. That is something that is done through hard work and deep thought, and even then, it is not fully achieved - much to our dismay. People sometimes unsuccessfully surrender themselves to their fantasies, their ideologies, and thus, make big mistakes, for to err is human. The protagonist in William Kennedy's Ironweed - Francis Phelan - is certainly no exception. He is a man who has made one too many …
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is now a movie directed by Hector Babenco ( Kiss of the Spider Woman) starring Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Nicholson plays Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, full-time drunk, a man trying to make peace with the ghosts of his past and present. 8 pages of photos.
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Details

ISBN-10: 0140070206
ISBN-13: 978-0140070200
Author: William J. Kennedy
Publisher: Penguin

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