The Runaway Soul
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Acclaimed New Yorker writer Brodkey set the literary world ablaze with this much-talked-about debut novel--a literary tour de force about an adopted child in the early 1930s who is raised in the St. Louis household of his cousins. "Impressive. . . . The work of a lifetime. . . . As haunted by love, death, and madness as The Oresteia".--Washington Post Book World.
some way what “the truth” is, truth perhaps semi-childishly measured. Perhaps eventually, at the moment of death maybe, I will see factually what really went on, see finally, a little anyway, see a little. A certain fineness in him, a practical narrowness had become a sense of willed limitation that helped limit his pietistic absolutism—he was almost liberal. But the thing of him being a “desirable” older man in the compartment on a train rescuing me, and my being
giddy as in a play about warriors and girls. Dan’s feelings are directed at a boy—at the boy he sees, skin and eyes, not at the boy he does not yet know, the compendium-and-anthological boy of days and days and days—the one my mother suspects of too much conceit. I half know that a dirty social merit consists of pretending to submit to the blackmail arrangements in human goings-on (as Lila understands these things). Lila has taught me what she knows. She has taught me what she wanted to teach
sensation is of motion again, undilute, ubiquitous. ‘Shut up, shut up, shut up,” I say out loud, “SHUT UP!” The cowardly boy in the reeds wanted to have good ideas, ideas that would make him famous. This didn’t seem like that sort of idea . . . It seemed merely true. Still, he said out loud, “Well, I don’t know . . .” Then: “Well, shut up about it. Don’t be a martyr . . .” If time is everything, then everything is not geometric or symmetrical. I want to be a liar. In this framework, death
do this with Leonie? Would I trust her? I’m ripped, flayed, stripped—I mean this is the real nakedness that the boy knows—I am down to the burning inner skin, heats and oils, exudations and flares, consolation, BRILLIANT renderings of this peculiar crossroads in one’s life in nature. I know something here; I half know it; I know that I know stuff here that I don’t with her; and I know that this is shallower for me . . . It has rooms to it, though, where I stand and watch . . . But pleasure as a
get the point and you don’t seem to. I’m not a creep. I love sports, do you? Don’t get too funny. Just maybe my family can handle you. We can get you thrown in prison. “HELP ME, DADDY, I’M A GOOD GIRL.” “I know you are, sweetie.” She yells, “OH, AH, YAH-AH”; that is, she argues for a moment sheerly as a girl yelling—if she was that noisy and that upset, then something was wrong; you were supposed to help her—this was a serious argument, an earnest one. Her eyes are screwed into being maybe