Summary and book reviews of What Harry Saw by Thomas Moran

What Harry Saw

by Thomas Moran

What Harry Saw
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2002, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Dec 2003, 320 pages

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Book Summary

Moran brings us a brilliantly flawed protagonist who captures a failing all too common among men: He sees only what he wants to see.

From the award-winning author of The Man in the Box, a story of one man's hard-won wisdom about all the things he'd rather forget.

The Los Angeles Times compared his debut novel, The Man in the Box, to works by Elie Wiesel and Cynthia Ozick. His second novel, The World I Made for Her, reconfirmed his ability to "immerse you utterly in whatever moment he chooses to describe" (The New York Times Book Review). And in his third novel, Water, Carry Me, he created "one of the most remarkable characters to grace fiction's pages" (The Washington Post Book World).

Now, Thomas Moran brings us a brilliantly flawed protagonist who captures a failing all too common among men: He sees only what he wants to see. Harry Hull's short list of things he'd rather forget includes the last three hundred days of his father's life; the cold, hard look from a woman who'd just told him she was pregnant; and the sight of a young girl's fall from a high bluff overlooking the sea. As he recalls his stormy but ever hopeful relationships, we see that Harry's struggles are a test of his capacity to know himself. In the end, as is true for so many of us, what Harry saw is not nearly as unsettling--or as vigorously life-changing--as what he's failed to see.

Chapter 1

Here's a fair one: Born blind.

Give that beauty half a moment, see where it takes you. If it isn't near to tears, if you reckon it's just a tragic turn that sometimes happens to somebody else's kid, if you don't damn it as a scabby betrayal of life's promise, then I've grave doubts you deserve the air you're breathing.

Give it another moment. Imagine, if you're able, that you've been struck blind this very instant. Shocking, yeah? You're feeling really sorry for yourself. But you've had your go, haven't you? You are not facing a total blank. You possess images of everyone and everything you ever cared for. You can put together a nice mental video, play it forward or backward just as you please, even freeze-frame the best bits. That should help you keep your grip on the world and where you once stood in it, where you might still stand.

Blind from birth? Could you ever be truly sure you were anywhere real ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

The Washington Post

The world Moran creates is as tender as the imagined reality of his protagonist--always moving, never maudlin.

BookPage

What Harry Saw is another winner for Thomas Moran and a treat for any book lover.

BookPage

What Harry Saw is another winner for Thomas Moran and a treat for any book lover

Booklist

Moran's writing is intense and muscular, with opalescent flashes of color and brilliance.

Publishers Weekly

Harry Hull is a hard guy to like, and Moran risks losing the reader's sympathy for his difficult protagonist.....The irony of the denouement, however, and its realistic assessment of Harry's future, is genuinely affecting.

Library Journal - Lawrence Rungran

Harry Hull returns to Australia after his Vietnam service as little more than a shell of a man. Despite his flaws, Harry is an appealing, very human protagonist.

Kirkus Reviews

An antipodean tearjerker from Moran (Water, Carry Me, 2000, etc.), this time in the story of a Vietnam vet who messes up his life early on and never seems able to get it straightened out.

Booklist - GraceAnne DeCandido

Moran's writing is intense and muscular, with opalescent flashes of color and brilliance....Beautifully composed about the hollow in Harry's center, which he never quite sees clearly.

Midwest Book Review

...well written and as deep and baring as a tale can be.

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