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The Nuclear Age Kindle Edition
It’s 1995 and William Cowling is digging a hole in his backyard. He is forty-nine, and after years and years of pent-up terror he has finally found the courage of a fighting man. And so a hole. A hold that he hopes will one day be large enough to swallow up his almost fifty years’ worth of fear. A hole that causes his twelve-year-old daughter to call him a “nutto,” and his wife to stop speaking to him. A hole that William will not stop digging and out of which rise scenes of his past to play themselves out in his memory.
The scenes take him back to his quietly peculiar adolescence (No. 2 pencils had a surprising significance), to his college days, down into the underground, and up through several stabs at “normal” adulthood . . . they take him from Montana to Florida, from Cuba to California, from Kansas to New York to Germany and back to Montana as he makes him way through an often mystifying—but just as often hilarious —labyrinth of fears and desires, obsessions and obligations, blessed madness and less-than-blessed sobriety . . . they take him into the lives of a shrink who’s a whiz a role reversal and of a dizzying eccentric cheerleader; of radical misfits and misfit radicals; of an ethereal stewardess (the traveling man’s dream); and two guerilla commandos who mix shtick and nightmare in their tactical brew. And each scene is a reminder of the unbargained-for-terror that has guided him to the bottom of his hole. For this digging is his final act of “prudence and sanity”—he’s taking control, getting there first, robbing his fears of their power to destroy . . . or so he believes. But is this act really sane? Is his daughter’s estimation of his emotional well-being (“pretty buggo, too”) the only truly sane statement being made? Is sanity even the issue? In the dazzling final scenes, William turns from the hole—from his past and from his future 0 to himself, digging deeper and deeper to find his answers.
The Nuclear Age is pyrotechnically funny and moving, courageous and irreverent. It takes on our supreme unacknowledged terror (whose reality we both refuse to accept and all too easily accommodate ourselves to), finds it lunatic core, and shapes it into a story that speaks of, and to, an entire age: our own, our nuclear age. It is an extraordinary novel.
Success hasn't dulled William Cowling's survival instinct, however; at the novel's start in 1995, the now-middle-aged businessman is busy digging a bomb shelter in his back yard. Nuclear war has been a particular obsession of his since those childhood drills back in the mid-1950s during which he was expected to crawl under his desk at school and cover his head against fallout. Forty years later, he still isn't taking any chances. His daughter thinks he's crazy, his wife is on the verge of leaving him, but still he digs--and as he digs he reviews the events in his life that have led up to this moment. The Nuclear Age is especially strong when it focuses on William's childhood and the complex web of relationships that exist within families. Less successful is O'Brien's portrayal of his character's obsession with nuclear war; though we are meant to see William as the only truly sane man in an insane world, all too often he comes across as genuinely cracked. Despite the book's weaknesses, it has many strengths, not least among them being Tim O'Brien's fierce intelligence, black wit, and eloquent prose. --Alix Wilber--This text refers to the paperback edition.
From Library Journal
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
- ASIN : B00BH0VSG2
- Publisher : Knopf; 1st edition (March 13, 2013)
- Publication date : March 13, 2013
- Language : English
- File size : 1266 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 312 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,178,048 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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