Synopses & Reviews
In 1975 the National Book Award Fiction Prize was awarded to two writers: Robert Stone and Thomas Williams. Yet only Stone's Dog Soldiers is still remembered today. That oversight is startling when considering the literary impact of The Hair of Harold Roux. A dazzlingly crafted novel-within-a-novel hailed as a masterpiece, it deserves a new generation of readers. In The Hair of Harold Roux, we are introduced to Aaron Benham: college professor, writer, husband, and father. Aaron-when he can focus-is at work on a novel, The Hair of Harold Roux, a thinly disguised autobiographical account of his college days. In Aaron's novel, his alter ego, Allard Benson, courts a young woman, despite the efforts of his rival, the earnest and balding Harold Roux-a GI recently returned from World War II with an unfortunate hairpiece. What unfolds through Aaron's mind, his past and present, and his nested narratives is a fascinating exploration of sex and friendship, responsibility and regret, youth and middle age, and the essential fictions that see us through.
"Williams's novel is terrific: it is sweet, funny and sexy … Williams is an accomplished magician."-Newsweek
"Everywhere the language flows from the purest vernacular to the elevations demanded by distilled perception. Our largest sympathies are roused, tormented and consoled."-Washington Post Book World
"A wonderfully old-fashioned writer … that dinosaur among contemporary writers of fiction, an actual storyteller."-John Irving
Winner of the National Book Award "The Hair of Harold Roux is breathtakingly good. The pages are alive with all the gilded vitality of realism's silkiest champions (John Updike, John Cheever), but it also anticipates the novelist-within-a-novel artifice honed later by Philip Roth in his Zuckerman books. It's a joy and a thrill to read." - Cleveland Plain Dealer "Writing must make its own way in the world, and often, the best stuff (and believe me, The Hair of Harold Roux is among the best stuff) falls to the side. Who can say what the culture notices, and why? But with the re-release of The Hair of Harold Roux, we have the opportunity for a bit of literary reclamation ... 36 years after it won the National Book Award and promptly disappeared." - "Jacket Copy," LATimes.com "[Why it works] has a lot to do with Williams' rigorous sense of interior examination, the minute-by-minute way he traces the existence of his middle-aged protagonist, a man beset equally by responsibility and the sense that time is no longer on his side. This is hardly an uncommon set of circumstances, but here it becomes the stuff of a minor epic drama... Williams constructs a novel that is as simple on the surface as it is nuanced and dense underneath." - David Ulin, Los Angeles Times "A superb and engrossing achievement." -Joseph Heller "The language flows from the purest vernacular to the elevations demanded by distilled perception. Our larges sympathies are roused, tormented, and consoled." -Washington Post Book World "[This] novel is terrific: it is sweet, funny, and sexy... Williams is an accomplished magician." -Newsweek "Williams proves once again he can do almost anything with words. This is literature." - Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Thomas Williams was born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1926. He attended the University of New Hampshire and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and taught at the University of New Hampshire for many years. His short stories appeared frequently in Esquire, the New Yorker, the Saturday Evening Post, and elsewhere. His first novel, Ceremony of Love, was published in 1955. He went on to write seven more novels and a book of short stories; another collection of his stories, Leah, New Hampshire, was published posthumously. Williams was nominated for the National Book Critics' Circle Award and twice nominated for the National Book Award, winning in 1975 for The Hair of Harold Roux.