THE CHILDREN AT THE GATE by Edward Lewis Wallant


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This posthumously-published novel is, like the author's The Tenants of Moonbloom, excellent, and full of weird, offbeat life and intelligence; its moral is more ambiguous. Angelo, an Italian boy with an idiot sister and a disastrous family, has rejected religion and people for books, science, and reason in a crazy universe. Working for a cousin's drugstore, he visits the local hospital every day where he meets Sammy, a Jewish orderly who, like a mad prophet, is loved and feared by the patients, and who shatters Angelo's calm and irrational tales and acts. Sammy's message is love, and he is killed, ""crucified"" in a sense. Angelo has rejected the idea that Christ died for humanity, and this vague, queer parallel does not precisely save him. It merely leaves him narmoured to life's pain and irrationality. But this parable can be interpreted many ways. Its hospital scenes, its explosive characters, are vivid, strange, intense, and troubling, and its meanings are full of dark contradictions.

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World