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In the Hollow of His Hand
     

In the Hollow of His Hand

5.0 1
by James Purdy
 

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A powerful novel by James Purdy set in the 1920s Midwest. Purdy explores the eruption of a scandal in a tight-knit community, when a Native American claims the parentage of a white couple’s son.

Overview

A powerful novel by James Purdy set in the 1920s Midwest. Purdy explores the eruption of a scandal in a tight-knit community, when a Native American claims the parentage of a white couple’s son.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Ojibwa Indian, Decatur, returns from World War I to the small Midwestern town of Yellow Brook where he sees the youth Chad Coultas and suddenly understands the boy is his son. The conflicting claims of Decatur and those of his legal father, Lewis, send Chad on a coming-of-age journey that takes him from the high life in 1920s Chicago to the Canadian wilds, initiating him into sex, drugs and the complications of filial love. Purdy (In a Shallow Grave tells a highly charged gothic tale, using larger-than-life characters of grand gesture and eloquence to express universal themes. Unfortunately, Chad's adventures read haltingly, as though they'd been composed sentence by sentence with long periods of time in between, a quality that seriously diminishes the tale's narrative drive, as well as the reader's enjoyment. (September 15)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781555840020
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
09/01/1986
Edition description:
1st ed
Pages:
256

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In the Hollow of His Hand 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although it does not seem to have been either a commercial or a critical success (and is out-of-print, though widely available), I think that his 1986 novel In the Hollow of His Hand is superb: a hilarious but oddly touching book. For the first hundred-plus pages it provides an account of a not-very-bright, twelve-year-old Chad Coultas, growing up in a small Midwestern town at an unspecified date between the end of World War I and the start of the Great Depression. Then it literally takes off and turns into a picaresque road novel, as Chad is kidnapped by a succession of men, chased by his father and an ancient private detective his father has hired, and helped by some women. This novel is not depressing, as some of Purdy's other fiction definitely is. Much of it is uproariously funny, though deadly serious issues of racism are central to the plot. Although the book veers away from lyrical realism into dreamily gothic surrealism half-way through, I found the second half very entertaining. It is a worthy successor of Purdy's early book about a boy lost among incomprehensible adults, Malcolm.