Friday, October 28, 2016

Ironweed - William Kennedy

Title: Ironweed
Author: William Kennedy
Publication Date: 1983
Pages: 208
Genre: Classic /Historical / Fiction
How I Found It: 100 Best Novels
Date Completed: 9/29/16

Summary: Francis Phelan is a drunk and a vagrant. He also talks to dead people - at least in his mind. 

What I Thought: This book is certainly very different from most others on the 100 Best Novels list and for that I am grateful. While many of the books I've read from the list thus far deal with men psychologically torn apart by their search for meaning, few have those men hallucinating conversations with the deceased. 

Phelan is an interesting protagonist. He's clearly very broken and wrestling with a host of internal demons. Anyone would after accidentally killing their own infant. Your heart breaks for him. Still, I had trouble connecting to him - probably because his situation seems so far removed from anything I have ever experienced and I would, hopefully, handle it very differently than him. Phelan walked away from his family after the accident and has been a drunken mess ever since. The book opens as he is beginning to think about reform. Reform, however, takes time and commitment. Phelan cannot redeem himself or return to grace over night.

I enjoyed Kennedy's writing style, but the plot and characters were not particularly interesting to me. I think I want to read more of Kennedy's work, or at least explore the topics of his other books. I might read this one again at some point. I think there is a lot to unpack here and I'd like to spend more time exploring the symbolism and character development. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Maybe

A Reduced Review: While the plot didn't captivate me, I enjoyed Kennedy's writing style and his look into brokenness and redemption. 

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