Victims of Pleasure

I had long since given up on contemporary American fiction, although the Neoformalist movement has reinvigorated my interest in some of today’s American poets.  The last American novelist I really admired was Walker Percy.  And even he never gave us what I had vaguely been looking for: a dramatization of the lives destroyed—or nearly so—by the 60’s and 70’s.  But now I have discovered this novel, one that is quite literally dedicated “To the memory of an undistinguished generation cruelly sacrificed at the altar of Pleasure.”

John Harris, a former professor of English literature, is the editor of Praesidium, a fine journal of ideas and criticism that appears both in print and online (  He is also a novelist who, judging from this book, deserves to be much better known.  From the epigraph from Orlando Furioso (Le lacrime e i sospiri degli amanti . . . ) to the final sentence on page 397, there is not a false note.  It is as if an American Dostoyevsky had taken on the Baby Boom generation and shown us just how their ideas and pursuits, while providing “great times” for some of them for a while, contributed to the construction of a living hell for others and, eventually, for some of themselves.  I have suspected for decades that my first wife and my three children—to...

Join now to access the full article and gain access to other exclusive features.

Get Started

Already a member? Sign in here