Oh Pure and Radiant Heart by Lydia Millet

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Oh Pure and Radiant Heart plucks the three scientists who were key to the invention of the atom bomb—Oppenheimer, Leo Szilard and Enrico Fermi—as they watch history's first mushroom cloud rise over the desert on July 16th, 1945...and places them down in modern-day Santa Fe. One by one, the scientists are spotted by a shy librarian who becomes convinced of their authenticity. Entranced, bewildered, overwhelmed by their significance as historical markers on the one hand, and their peculiar personalities on the other, she, to the dismay of her husband, devotes herself to them. Soon the scientists acquire a sugar daddy—a young pothead millionaire from Tokyo who bankrolls them. Heroes to some, lunatics or con artists to others, the scientists finally become messianic religious figureheads to fanatics, who believe Oppenheimer to be the Second Coming. As the ever-growing convoy traverses the country in a fleet of RV's on a pilgrimage to the UN, the scientists wrestle with the legacy of their invention and their growing celebrity, while Ann and her husband struggle with the strain on their marriage, a personal journey married to a history of thermonuclear weapons.

About Lydia Millet

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Lydia Millet is the author of the New York Times Notable Book Ghost Lights and eight other works of fiction. Her short story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She lives with her children outside Tucson, Arizona.
Published June 1, 2005 by Soft Skull Press. 513 pages
Genres: Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

Kirkus Reviews

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Ann meets Fermi and Oppenheimer in the produce aisle of the corner grocery, Oppenheimer wielding a Daikon radish that “resembled a club, and she thought blunt instrument.” With Szilard in tow, the fissionable four set about trying to unmake the atomic era, wending their way across a landscape mad...

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The New York Times

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''A librarian,'' Lydia Millet observes perfectly, ''was a nun without God.'' Evidently -- when a man enters the library one day waving a gun, Ann tries to calm herself with this prayer: ''Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.'' Skip to next paragraph Max Bode But in the opening pages...

Aug 28 2005 | Read Full Review of Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

Entertainment Weekly

What they discover horrifies them: ''An egg hatched in 1945 and out of it, preening, crawled a bird that would never stop flying.'' Millet has wisely broken the novel into short segments, interspersing the somewhat harum-scarum central action — the scientists embark on a wacky cross-cou...

Jul 06 2005 | Read Full Review of Oh Pure and Radiant Heart


On July 16, 1945, the first atomic bomb was detonated in the New Mexico desert, causing six kilograms of compressed plutonium to blow up in a fireball, in a blast felt by observers watching 20 miles away.

Aug 12 2005 | Read Full Review of Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

Bookmarks Magazine

ISBN: 1932360859 "For all its frenetic energy and fiery satire, Oh Pure and Radiant Heart .

Oct 15 2007 | Read Full Review of Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

SciFi Online

The book is written in short sections, alternating between the dramatic narrative, a history of the bomb and its relevance in today's society and Millet's often short but poignant insights to our relationship with this weapon of ma...

Jun 01 2006 | Read Full Review of Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

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