The Nephew by James Purdy

This short novel is slightly reminiscent of the early work of Gore Vidal. There is something compelling about the early part of the book. Initially, the pages turn swiftly.

Nonetheless, the narrative is a dated one and the characters eventually collapse into colourless stereotypes. There is even a possible whiff of racism in the tale of small town disillusionment.

It is important not to judge a novel by contemporary values, but this story fails to escape from the hegemonic prejudices of the last century. As a result, the reader is divided, unable to give it classic status, but unwilling to condemn it entirely. Purdy could use words well, but readers of this book might not give him another chance.

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