At the heart of John Gardner's Nickel Mountain is an uncommon love story: when at 42, the obese, anxious, and gentle Henry Soames marries seventeen-year-old Callie Wells--who is pregnant with the child of a local boy--it is much more than years which define the gulf between them. But the beauty of this novel is the gradual revelation of the bond that develops as this unlikely couple experiences courtship and marriage, the birth of a son, isolation, forgiveness, work, and death in a small Catskill community in the 1950s. The plot turns on tragic events-they might be accidents or they might be acts of will-involving a cast of rural eccentrics that includes a lonely amputee veteran, a religious hysteric (thought by some to be the devil himself) and an itinerant "Goat Lady." Questions of guilt, innocence, and even murder are eclipsed by deeds of compassion, humility, and redemption, and ultimately by Henry Soames' quiet discovery of grace. Novelist William H. Gass, a friend and colleague of the author, has written an introduction that shines new light on the work and career of the much praised but often misunderstood John Gardner.
About the Author
John Gardner (1933-1982) was one of the most provocative American novelists of his generation, garnering critical praise and a popular following for his fiction, including October Light, The Sunlight Dialogues, Grendel, and Mickelson's Ghost, as well as his criticism, the groundbreaking Moral Fiction, and his controversial The Art of Fiction, which has become a standard text in university writing classes around the country.
William H. Gass was born in Fargo, North Dakota. He is the author of seven works of fiction, nine books of essays, and a book of conversations. Gass was a professor of philosophy at Washington University. For most of his life he lived in St. Louis, Missouri, with his wife, the architect Mary Gass. William Gass died in 2017.