Nickel Mountain: A Pastoral Novel

Overview

John Gardner's most poignant novel of improbable love.

At the heart of John Gardner's Nickel Mountain is an uncommon love story: when at 42, the obese, anxious and gentle Henry Soames marries seventeen-year-old Callie Wells—who is pregnant with the child of a local boy—it is much more than years which define the gulf between them. But the beauty of this novel is the gradual revelation of the bond that develops as this unlikely couple ...
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Overview

John Gardner's most poignant novel of improbable love.

At the heart of John Gardner's Nickel Mountain is an uncommon love story: when at 42, the obese, anxious and gentle Henry Soames marries seventeen-year-old Callie Wells—who is pregnant with the child of a local boy—it is much more than years which define the gulf between them. But the beauty of this novel is the gradual revelation of the bond that develops as this unlikely couple experiences courtship and marriage, the birth of a son, isolation, forgiveness, work, and death in a small Catskill community in the 1950s. The plot turns on tragic events—they might be accidents or they might be acts of will—involving a cast of rural eccentrics tha includes a lonely amputee veteran, a religious hysteric (thought by some to be the devil himself) and an itinerant "Goat Lady." Questions of guilt, innocence, and even murder are eclipsed by deeds of compassion, humility, and redemption, and ultimately by Henry Soames' quiet discovery of grace.

Novelist William H. Gass, a friend and colleague of the author, has written an introduction that shines new light on the work and career of the much praised but often misunderstood John Gardner.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

This obtuse love story reveals Henry Soames, an obese man who marries 17-year-old Callie Wells, pregnant by another man. Despite their many differences, they raise the child in a 1950s upstate New York community, which is none to embracing of this unlikely trio.


—Michael Rogers
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780811216784
  • Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 10/15/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,303,896
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

John Gardner (1933-1982) was one of the most provocative American novelists of his generation, garnering critical praise and a popular following for his fiction, including October Light, The Sunlight Dialogues, Grendel, and Mickelson's Ghost, as well as his criticism, the groundbreaking Moral Fiction, and his controversial The Art of Fiction, which has become a standard text in university writing classes around the country. William H. Gass, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, critic and former philosophy professor, is one of America's most prolific and influential fiction writers and the author of Omensetter's Luck, In The Heart of the Heart of the Country, Willie Masters' Lonesome Wife, Cartesian Sonata and Other Novellas, and his magnum opus, The Tunnel.
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