Read The Runaway Soul by Harold Brodkey Online


Acclaimed New Yorker writer Brodkey set the literary world ablaze with this much-talked-about debut novel--a literary tour de force about an adopted child in the early 1930s who is raised in the St. Louis household of his cousins. Impressive. . . . The work of a lifetime. . . . As haunted by love, death, and madness as The Oresteia.--Washington Post Book World....

Title : The Runaway Soul
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 0000807012262
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 835 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Runaway Soul Reviews

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-03-26 00:05

    Brodkey’s lifelong opus, largely forgotten for obvious reasons, is a contender for the most solipsistic, inward-looking 835pp novel since Bill Vollmann’s nine-volume Reflections on My Eyebrows. Brodkey, who published a story collection in 1958 and no books in the 60s or 70s or most-of-the-80s until Stories in an Almost Classical Mode in 1988, by remaining a New Yorker man his entire life, made himself a human dartboard by holding back this novel until 1991. Because TRS was savaged by everyone except forgotten novelist D.M. Thomas (famous for his pretentious erotica in the 80s). The novel is narrated by Brodkey stand-in Wiley and dwells largely on his adolescence in the Midwestern region and his monstrous and marvellous sister Nonie. My position is that I simultaneously loathe and adore this novel, usually within the same sentence, and my assumption is that Brodkey knew his prose would meet with outright hostility, but forged ahead in his artistic vision to create a work replete with such a painstaking and psychopathically obsessive Proust-in-therapy micro-dissection of his childhood, no one could deny, nor appreciate, his particular brand of sectionable genius. The opening parts of TRS are the most arresting—the beautiful rhythms of the lightning storm scene with Nonie, and the writing on this character in general, are positively Gassian—but the prose falls into a strange discursive mode, stripped of musicality and liveliness, lapsing into dense thickets of dashes and ellipses and fragmented phrases, almost as if the narrator is speaking aloud to his snoozing therapist on the page. This becomes the default mode for TRS, and I spent over a month desperate to recapture the amazement of the first 200pp, but the amazement eluded me. Simply, I agree with some of Brodkey’s nemeses who accused TRS of arrogance, pretentiousness, repetition and self-obsession. It drips from almost every page, but that doesn’t cancel out the moments of thunderous intelligence, the tantric eroticism (one sex scene lasts over 80pp and one canoodling scene 50pp), the fabulously vivid family descriptions, and the scenes with brattish babe Nonie, equal only to Cora in Janice Galloway’s All Made Up in the evil sister stakes. And the style, once tolerated, does contain moments of illumination and beauty beneath the babbling indulgence. As unsatisfying as it is on the whole, TRS does capture the particulars of (an) adolescence with a meticulous psychological insight and heavyhearted attention to detail. At times, it feels like writing this physically pains Brodkey, and that melancholy lifts up and weighs down his ill-fated opus. HB discusses TRS in two parts with MS on Bookworm.

  • Nathan
    2019-03-31 06:21

    See Friend Jonathan's review: Village Bookshop had an inscribed 1st/1st for US$7.95. Now I have it. I am happified.__________I kn[e]w nothing. Something about "much maligned" and one insightful goodreads reviewer used the word "verbal diarrhea" but hers is a sentence fragment meaning perhaps to have said "not" verbal diarrhea."Whatever" say today's kids and we'll provide a link:

  • Gregory
    2019-04-14 00:25

    Flying and crying and trying and dying and wondrous entrance into Wiley Silenowicz's consciousness, St. Louis representing realness of the twentieth century, indirect hommage to both hobos and Proust the famous homo in the first couple vignettes, a book that lit up my late-teen years to the possibilities of modernist and postmodernist fiction.

  • Hans Van
    2019-04-02 23:17

    I have tried to get through more than the first 50 pages of this scores of times, to no avail. Since I like books that 'go somewhere' more (i.e. somthing of note happens), and I have the feeling that this one doesn't, I decided to abandon trying to read it. It must be a great book, but unfortunately, I fail to recognise what's great this time.

  • Anne Sanow
    2019-04-09 00:28

    Verbal diarrhea. Read anything else by him.

  • Henry
    2019-04-14 06:25

    I tried to read it (I will continue to try) but there was just too much Writing in there to hold my attention.