Saturday, July 02, 2005

pure radiant

Lydia Millet has got to be one of my favorite American writers. Her new one from Soft Skull is called Oh Pure and Radiant Heart and must rank as her most ambitious novel yet. It's a rich and marvellous meditation on the atomic bomb from Los Alamos to Japan, as an idea and as 20th century mythos. A very nice Librarian in Santa Fe begins to dream. Robert Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard, and Enrico Fermi come back to life, reconoiter in New Mexico and become Ann(the Librarian)'s focal point for most of the book. Millet is so smart she can cobble such unlikely material into a complex, hysterical and heartbreaking novel. She is extraordinary with her characters(the three physicists are particularly fetching) and the world she presents as Ann's dreams blend nicely with the scarcely believable real world. I've read all of Millet's books and have yet to be disappointed. She is still young and may write some amazing stuff in the future. Soft Skull has issued this new novel in hardcover, a mistake, I think. People who'll love it won't have $25 of disposable income to spend on something they might not like.

Mister Nouse


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