The Tree of Life

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Paul Dry Books, 2000 - Fiction - 189 pages
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Eighteen months of the life of Thomas Keene, a fictitious 19th-century congregational minister, is traced in this journal-like novel. Having suffered a loss of faith, Keene abandons the East for frontier life in the Ohio wilderness. His account is by turns violent, tender, and erotic. Keene is both a witness to history, describing the many ordinary and horrific details of frontier life (including the conflict between white settlers and Indians), and a man searching for personal meaning in a world without God. Like a true frontier journal, the novel includes illustrations attributed to Keene. As a foil to the main character, the historic figure John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, is portrayed as a believer who lives with self-doubt.

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The tree of life

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This novel about settlers on the Ohio frontier at the time of the War of 1812 is cast in the form of a personal journal. The diarist is Thomas Keene, a former Maine minister who has lost his faith and ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

Hugh Nissenson was born in New York City in 1933. After graduating from Swarthmore College, he published his first short story in Harper's Magazine in 1958. He has taught writing at Yale, Barnard, and Auburn Theological Seminary, and is the author of a memoir, three collections of short stories and journals, and four novels. Margo Jefferson is a cultural critic for The New York Times. In 1995, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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