Pieces of Payne by Albert Goldbarth
A Novel

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Albert Goldbarth is “a dazzling virtuoso who can break your heart” (Joyce Carol Oates)

How is Eliza’s divorce connected to the rise of twentieth-century quantum physics? Why does the steamy promise of “a key unlocking a door at a cheap motel along I-35” lead us to a consideration of Moby-Dick? What does one physician’s fake appointment book have to do with Columbus, werewolves, and Fanny Burney’s famously excruciating nineteenth-century mastectomy? Albert Goldbarth sets his story of love’s daily pleasures and griefs upon a foundation of ever-branching footnotes—from the strange worlds of supermarket tabloids and the Legion of Super-Heroes to more contemplative forays into gender politics, Dickens scholarship, and medical anomalies. By taking us on this mind-bending journey, he shows us how our lives are both confused and empowered by the multilayered universe around us.

Pieces of Payne is the first novel by Goldbarth, a two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

About Albert Goldbarth

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Published April 1, 2003 by Graywolf Press. 208 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Eliza’s life unfolds slowly in flashback (her parents’ divorce, her own unhappy marriage to a Russian astronomer, her interest in quantum physics), but Goldbarth seems more concerned with quoting people like John Cowper Powys or compiling alphabetical lists of breast nicknames (from “apples” to “...

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Austin Chronicle

The way Goldbarth -- the professor, the author, the narrator, all of them -- organizes this story is reminiscent of James Burke's Connections series of scientific history videos, except that instead of the constituents being joined through complex and sometimes unexpected linkages of mechanical c...

Apr 11 2003 | Read Full Review of Pieces of Payne: A Novel

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