This is not my favourite fiction- but I read it, finished it, and loved most of it.
A thin yet juicy work of art, IRONWEED is considered part of great American story-telling. As a reviwer puts it, "(It) is one of the few imperishable products of American literature since the Second World War."
Francis Phelan is back in his hometown of Albany, New York after abandoning it for many years. Now, in 1938, he returned to find himself, make peace with the many ghosts of the past and present, and, ultimately, seek for redemption.
I found Phelan to be uninspiring- but then, who would?, afterall, this guy is a "bum", a full-time drunk, a murderer. Yes, he was once an accomplished ballplayer, but now, and NOW, he is just a "bum". One of the 'greatness' of this book (and there are many) is that William Kennedy was able to present to us a character, so unwanted, so despised, so uninspiring in a way that dignity still is embedded in that character.
Why did he write a story about a bum? Well, I don't know the answer to this question, but I certainly liked the story of this bum's life. (I suppose if you want to read a novel with highly inspiring characters, there is LOVE IN TIME OF CHOLERA)
Written in a style almost plain and unaffecting, IRONWEED is a heart-breaking work that needs one's patience to truly understand the greatness and the dramatic tension of Kennedy's work.