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Ironweed ()

Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (92)

This Pulitzer Prize Winning entry in Kennedy's Albany Cycle of novels tells the story of Francis Phelan, an ex-baseball player,  now bum,  who is haunted by ghosts in Albany, NY in 1938.  Twenty two years earlier Phelan picked up his thirteen day old son by his diaper and the boy slipped to the ground and was killed.  He also killed a scab driver during a strike when he beaned him with a rock.  In the intervening years, he has taken to the bottle. Now the ghosts of these and other figures from his past are coming back & Francis must try to reconcile with their spirits and with the remaining members of his family.

I happen to have recently read Sophie's Choice & Beloved (see review) which also deal with parental guilt over culpability for a childs death.  I found them both to be hopeless.  This book, on the contrary, like Fearless by Rafael Yglesias, offers hope of redemption and the reader inevitably ends up rooting for Francis Phelan and hoping he can exorcise the demons that drive him.


Grade: (A)


William Kennedy Links:

    -REVIEW : of The Autumn of the Patriarch By Gabriel García Márquez (William Kennedy, NY Times Book Review)
    -INTERVIEW : with William Kennedy author of Very Old Bones (Peggy Langstaff, June 1992, Book Page)
    -INTERVIEW : with William Kennedy (Hanna Pustula - translator of Kennedy's books into Polish language, Artzone : Polish Arts Forum, Strefa Polskiej Kultury i Sztuki)
    -PROFILE : William Kennedy: Albany's Poet (Donald Faulkner, New York State Writers Institute)
    -PROFILE : Writing 'Ironweed' a tale of its own (Fred LeBrun, 9/2/84, Albany Times Union)
    -New York State Writers Institute - William Kennedy
    -RECIPE : Francis Phelan's Bum's Rush Garlic Soup (Soup Song)
    -Yahoo! Club : Fans of William Kennedy
    -READING GROUP GUIDE : IRONWEED by William Kennedy (Prepared by Dr. Donald R. Gallo, Professor of English, Central Connecticut State University)
    -TEACHER'S GUIDE : Ironweed by William Kennedy (Teacher Vision)
    -READING GROUP GUIDE : The Flaming Corsage by William Kennedy
    -ARCHIVES : "william kennedy" (Find Articles)
    -REVIEW : of Ironweed (George Stade, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of The Flaming Corsage (Michael Gorra, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of The Flaming Corsage (R.Z. Sheppard, TIME)
    -REVIEW : of The Flaming Corsage (Allen Barra, MetroActive)
    -REVIEW : of The Flaming Corsage (Robert Spillman , Salon)
    -REVIEW : of The Flaming Corsage (Paul Signorelli, SF Bay Guardian)

    -FILMOGRAPHY : William Kennedy (II) (
    -INFO : Ironweed (1987) (
    -REVIEW : of Ironweed (Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times)
    -REVIEW : of Ironweed (Hal Hinson, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW : of Ironweed (Desson Howe, Washington Post)

    -Capital Region Century (Albany Times Union)
    -MAN OF THE CENTURY : Daniel P. O' Connell 1885-1977: He was the emperor of Albany County (Kate Gurnett, 1/1/00, Albany Times Union)
    -ESSAY : Albany offers rich history (Jennifer Jordan, Associated Press, 11/99)

    -ESSAY : Looking for grace in all the write places : From Flannery O'Connor to Ron Hansen, Catholic writers have crafted their own literary tradition by delighting and enlightening readers. Patrick McCormick picks the best of the best. (Patrick McCormick, 11/99, U.S. Catholic)

Book-related and General Links:
    -ESSAY:  WHY IT TOOK SO LONG (William Kennedy, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of   IRONWEED By William Kennedy LIFE ON THE LAM (George Stade, NY Times Book Review)
    -INTERVIEW : A Conversation With William Kennedy (Los Angeles Times, 1/20/02)
    -INTERVIEW : Q & A: William Kennedy : At home with the politics of Albany, the author's new novel, "Roscoe," is his most ambitious yet. (James Sullivan, SF Chronicle, January 13, 2002)
    -REVIEW : of Roscoe by William Kennedy (Ward Just, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW : of Roscoe by William Kennedy (Janet Maslin, NY Times)
    -REVIEW : of Roscoe by William Kennedy (David Kipen, SF Chronicle)
    -REVIEW : of Roscoe by William Kennedy (Robin Vidimos, Denver Post)
    -REVIEW : of Roscoe by William Kennedy (Michael Gorra, LA Times)
    -REVIEW : of Roscoe (MARTHA LIEBRUM , Houston Chronicle)