Eustace Chisholm and the Works: A Novel

Eustace Chisholm and the Works: A Novel

Language: English

Pages: 304

ISBN: 0871409526

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

"[S]o good that almost any novel you read immediately after it will seem at least a little bit posturing." ―Jonathan Franzen

No James Purdy novel has dazzled contemporary writers more than this haunting tale of unrequited love in an indifferent world. A seedy depression-era boarding house in Chicago plays host to "a game of emotional chairs" (The Guardian) in a novel initially condemned for its frank depiction of abortion, homosexuality, and life on the margins of American society. A cast of characters displaced by economic distress congeal around the embittered poet Eustace Chisholm, who acts as a something of a Greek chorus for the doomed and destructive relationship that is instigated when landlord Daniel Haws falls in love with young college student Amos Ratcliffe. Building to a shocking conclusion, Eustace Chisholm and the Works is a dark and gothic look at the strange and terrible power of love amid a "psychic American landscape of deluded innocence, sexual obsession, violence, and isolation" (William Grimes, New York Times).
















find of finds was a diary of Daniel Haws scribbled in an old record-book of rents due and problems in trigonometry. Among the pile he also found a recent letter, yet unopened, from Cousin Ida to Amos. But with his joy over treasure came the realization that the two men to whom the papers belonged were gone, probably forever. To Eustace it seemed unlikely he would ever set eyes on either of them again. About a week after the auction, Carla brought Eustace a red-white-and-blue envelope with an

and invariably to appear after chow to watch the soldier go through the cleaning of his mess kit. After eating, Daniel had hardly risen from the grass with his empty kit, striking a soiled fork against the tin plate, than the captain appeared as from behind nowhere to watch him. Daniel began the ceremony of cleaning, putting the mess kit and its utensils in the dirty suds contained by the first huge garbage pail set on a bank of flames, then into the second garbage pail with its hot clearer

just said,” the captain cried. Haws seized the remaining pencil and, in a passionate flourish of letters, obeyed. Happily, deliriously he handed the paper to the captain who read it eagerly and put it in his stiff jacket. “Just so you don’t ever make me write him,” Haws muttered. “I’ll tell you something, Haws.” The captain came very close to him now, leaning over the picnic table, one hand resting on his bent knee. “I’ll tell you the truth, too, because you just give me the idea. (You give

Ace addressed his friend as the salesman reassembled the davenport from its nighttime into its daytime shape. “My teacher is a young genius of sixteen or seventeen summers,” Ace informed Carla. “Came from way down south in the state, tiny crossroads of a place. But he knows everything. I mean everything. Where he got his brains and knowledge in a crossroads—well, the universe is mysterious. And he is celestially good-looking, too good-looking for real. Until lately, Clay and I were keeping him,

yawned. She went over to him and put some pomade on his burned arm. “I’m listening, sweet,” she said at a sigh of impatience from him. There was no sound at all in the room just then until the wind caught the Woolworth glass chimes, and now they tinkled comfortingly. “It’s come over me too clear to back down, Carla, and I want you to know. You see how calm I am about the poem burning. I’m not a writer, that’s my news, never was, and never will be,” he told her. “Furthermore you don’t think

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