From the bestselling author of The Sixteen Pleasures comes an unforgettable novel about a man's search for meaning, in the tradition of Louis Begley's About Schmidt and Evan Connell's Mr. Bridge.
Rudy Harrington has spent half his life in a rambling Chicago house, raising three daughters with his independent-minded wife. But his wife has died, his daughters have moved away, and Rudy is restless. In what he interprets as a moment of transcendent vision, he puts the family home up for sale and buys an avocado grove in Texas. While adapting to his new vocation, new home, and new friends, Rudy takes up a book--Philosophy Made Simple--and begins to struggle with Plato and Aristotle, Hume and Schopenhauer. His newly acquired wisdom is put to the test when he enlists the neighborhood elephant to preside over his daughter's Hindu wedding and falls in love with the groom's mother.
Hellenga brings back characters from his bestselling The Sixteen Pleasures and introduces many compelling new ones--including the elephant, who paints--in a novel that illuminates our deepest concerns: love and death, marriage and family, and the mysterious tug of beauty on the human heart.
It's a quietly funny story set in the late 1960s, and very well observed. If you read and enjoyed books such as The Poet of Tolstoy Park or The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, then Robert Hellenga's latest is a shoe-in for you. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
If you can keep up with his rapidly shifting thoughts, you might enjoy going along for the ride.
More twinkly humor, mild insight, clean prose and gentle homilies follow in this thinker's light gem.
There's nothing whimsical about this solidly grounded fiction, which enchantingly explores the space between philosophical concepts and our hapless floundering in life's challenges.
Starred Review. Supremely wily and compelling, Hellenga turns a human tale of reason versus feeling into a cosmic playoff between order and chaos.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by DipStick Painfully humorous I always dream 30 years out. And thirty years out I am Rudy. Author has done a good job composing his thoughts together. It is just a bit fast - with these kind of books I like to soak myself at certain moments - the book in itself did not provide... Read More
This is Hellenga's fourth novel following The Sixteen Pleasures (1994),
The Fall of a Sparrow (1998), and Blues Lessons (2002). Set
in the late 1960s, Philosophy Made Simple shares many of the same
characters as The Sixteen Pleasures, but it is certainly not necessary to
have read the earlier book to enjoy the latter. Having said that, if you're interested to know what came before, below is a brief summary of The Sixteen Pleasures.
About The Sixteen Pleasures Margot (one of Rudy's daughters) gave up her place at Harvard to care for
her ailing mother. Now, at 29, this librarian and book conservator answers
the call for volunteers to help Florence save its art treasures from the rapidly
flooding Arno River (1966). While in Italy she discovers a fabulous volume
of sixteen erotic drawings thought to have been destroyed by the Vatican and
falls in love with a married Italian man.
About Robert Hellenga Hellenga grew up in Michigan where his father was a commission...
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