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The Bitter Half, The Bitter Half, 1573661325, 1-57366-132-5, 978-1-57366-132-4, 9781573661324,

The Bitter Half
by Toby Olson

Quality Paper
2006. 248 pp.
978-1-57366-132-4
Price:  $19.95 s

The Bitter Half opens in 1935 in Pearce, Arizona, where Chris Pollard, a famed if eccentric authority on jail breaks, has been called in to investigate the case of The Kid, an inmate who has broken out of every prison in which he has been held. The Kid appears and disappears, eluding his pursuers, while at Pollard’s Wisconsin estate a rag-tag group of travelers and refugees come together, including a black family from Florida, a female candy store owner known as Bo Peep, and a troupe of down-and-out entertainers.
 
As Pollard and The Kid traverse the wasteland of Depression-era America, an obsessive, evasive, and erotic attraction grows between the two, culminating in a final confrontation at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. In revealing their tangled attraction and intertwined fates, The Bitter Half offers a striptease of masks and mysteries, slowly revealing a web of seductions, assumptions, and miscues of desire.
 
Praise for Toby Olson’s fiction:

Toby Olson, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel Seaview, has published eight works of fiction including The Life of Jesus, The Woman Who Escaped from Shame, Utah, and Dorit in Lesbos. He has also published many volumes of poetry, most recently Human Nature. He lives with his wife in Philadelphia and Cape Cod.

Praise for Toby Olson’s fiction:
“Toby Olson takes on almost everything that a work of fiction can bear.”—Los Angeles Times

Praise for Toby Olson’s fiction:
“Nothing can detract from Mr. Olson’s ability to conjure gorgeous prose passages that celebrate the healing powers of friendship, the pleasures of love and lovemaking, and the inborn mystery and beauty of things in this world.”—New York Times Book Review

“Toby Olson is one of America’s most important novelists.”—Robert Coover

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