Book summary: The Quick and the Dead

2000 BY JOY WILLIAMS

Misanthropic Alice is a budding eco-terrorist; Corvus has dedicated herself to mourning; Annabel is desperate to pursue an ordinary American life of indulgences. Misfit and motherless, they share an American desert summer of darkly illuminating signs and portents. In locales as mirrored strange as a nursing home where the living dead are preserved, to a wildlife museum where the dead are presented as living, the girls attend to their future.

A remarkable attendant cast of characters, including a stroke survivor whose soulmate is a vivisected monkey, an aging big-game hunter who finds spiritual renewal in his infatuation with an eight-year-old–the formidable Emily Bliss Pickles–and a widower whose wife continues to harangue him, populate this gloriously funny and wonderfully serious novel where the dead are forever infusing the living, and all creatures strive to participate in eternity.

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