Defiance

Overview

Her name is Bernadette O'Brien. The unhappy child born into a working-class Irish Catholic family. The misfit and girl-genius, who entered the halls of academic privilege at the age of 12 and rose within its ranks to become a respected professor of physics at Harvard.The defiant woman, inspired in a most scrumptious occasion of sin to commit an extraordinary crime. The Death Row celebrity sentenced to die in the electric chair for the shocking sexual murder of two of her most promising male students, her sweet ...
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1999-06-01 Mass Market Paperback New New-It is Brand NEW and in its NEW dust cover. It is free from any foreign markings.

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Overview

Her name is Bernadette O'Brien. The unhappy child born into a working-class Irish Catholic family. The misfit and girl-genius, who entered the halls of academic privilege at the age of 12 and rose within its ranks to become a respected professor of physics at Harvard.The defiant woman, inspired in a most scrumptious occasion of sin to commit an extraordinary crime. The Death Row celebrity sentenced to die in the electric chair for the shocking sexual murder of two of her most promising male students, her sweet phallocentrics. In her journal (my death book), Bernadette takes a dark and resolute look back at the unfolding events that led to the horrific crimes for which she stood trial. For which she was condemned and for which she is now caged to dream, to imagine, to confess.
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Editorial Reviews

Charlotte Innes
...[S]et at the darkest end of Maso's mood scale....characteristically tosses overboard the usual ballast of plot, character, conflict and resolution....What it really reveals is Maso's impressive abilities as a prose-poet who accurately relays the syncopations of life. --The Nation
Molly Hite
. . .[A] tense, dense and utterly absorbing novel. . . .Maso has made her evocative and repetitive prose structures into . . .a contest with the reader in which self-conscious narrative strategies have consequences that matter. . . .a tour de force. Maso has finally written the book she has always seemed capable of writing. -- The Women's Review of Books
Kirkus Reviews
A vivid rendering of the psyche of an unregenerate murderess breathes life into this impressive if typically irritating sixth novel from the prolific author of such postmodernist misfires as Ava (1993) and Ghost Dance (1996). Narrator Bernadette O'Brien, incarcerated in the Georgia prison where she'll be executed, describes in an 'elaborate confessional' (which she also calls her 'death book') her troubled upbringing (in Irish-Catholic working-class Fall River, Mass.), precocious brilliance (which led her to Harvard at age 12 and early eminence there as a professor of physics), and in hair-raisingly explicit and vainglorious detail, her seduction and then murder of two of her prize students. Maso tells Bernadette's lurid story in a calculatedly disjointed narrative that leaps forward and back in time and is composed of fragmentary remembered experiences and conversations, classroom lectures, diagrams (which mischievously parody scientific and mathematical formulae), poems, aphorisms, and amusingly grandiose quotations, and misquotations (mostly from Shakespeare). What emerges is a superb portrait of an unwanted daughter born to a 40-year-old mother and alcoholic father, and of a grieving sister (whose brother Fergus went to Vietnam and found 'an untimely, violent demise in an absurd cause'), a sister who would steel herself to become a powerful woman impervious to indignity and loss. That's all to the good; what isn't is the tiresome reiteration (familiar in Maso's fiction) of diatribes against American materialism, complacency, and intolerance; 'the peculiar behavioral habits of the heterosexual'; and, more generally (and more stridently), the ways in which men exercisepower over women. The final pages, though, where Bernadette's rages are subsumed in her intimations of solidarity with other women prisoners and of reunion with her brother, are the most affecting Maso has written. Maso's still a writer burdened by an agenda, but here sheĆ¾s grounded her protagonist's fulminations in a recognizable reality and in a manner that makes this at once her most convincingly textured and technically accomplished novel.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452278295
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 6/1/1999
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.94 (h) x 0.74 (d)

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