Soldier, son, lover, husband, breadwinner, churchgoer, Henry Maxwell has spent his whole life trying to live with honour. A native Pittsburgher and engineer, he’s always believed in logic, sacrifice and hard work. Now, seventy-five and retired, he feels the world has passed him by. It’s 1998, the American century is ending, and nothing is simple any more. His children are distant, their unhappiness a mystery. Only his wife, Emily, and dog, Rufus, stand by him.
Once so confident, as Henry’s strength and memory desert him, he weighs his dreams against his regrets and is left with questions he can’t answer: Is he a good man? Has he done right by the people he loves? And with time running out, what, realistically, can he hope for?
Henry, Himself is a wry, warmhearted portrait of an American original – a man who believes he’s reached a dead end only to discover life is full of surprises.
O'Nan, with some of his most gorgeous writing, [provides] Henry instances of unexpected grace . . . This novel is a lovely tribute to the enduring mystery of an ordinary life. * Pittsburgh Post-Gazette * Engaging and immersive . . . One of O'Nan's gifts is his ability to craft his characters with such uncanny attention to detail that the reader comes to care for them as the author does . . . [A] poignant, everyman story. * Book Page * Charming, meditative, gently funny, and stealthily poignant...Like Richard Russo and Anne Tyler, O'Nan discerningly celebrates the glory of the ordinary in this pitch-perfect tale of the hidden everyday valor of a humble and good man. * Booklist * As usual, this profoundly unpretentious writer employs lucid, no-frills prose to cogently convey complicated emotions and fraught family interactions...Astute and tender, rich in lovely images and revealing details - another wonderful piece of work from the immensely gifted O'Nan. * Kirkus (starred review) * O'Nan has returned to the mode that marks his best work, capturing America's shaky middle class with dignity . . . Tracking Henry's subtle interplay with [his wife] Emily, and the unspoken mysteries that concern him, O'Nan reveals a rich inner life. * Minneapolis Star Tribune * Beautifully spare and poignant . . . a novel that charms not through its plot, but through its subtle revelations of character and the human condition. * New York Times Book Review *
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