Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Hair of Harold Roux Paperback – Feb 1 1995

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

See all 8 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Paperback, Feb 1 1995
CDN$ 120.60 CDN$ 999.11

Back to University 2016
Save on College Prep Essentials on Amazon.ca. Shop now
click to open popover

No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 383 pages
  • Publisher: New Hampshire; New edition edition (Feb. 1 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087451701X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874517019
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.1 x 2.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,152,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  •  Would you like to update product info, give feedback on images, or tell us about a lower price?

Product Description


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
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

5 1/2 x 8 1/2 trim. LC 94-44582

See all Product Description

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Thomas Williams has written a brilliant book that everyone should read--The Hair of Harold Roux. It is probably the finest of all Williams' novels. Written as a novel-within-a-novel, both stores involve the reader. It's one of my favorite books.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Report abuse

Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyman June 30 2011
By Paul G. Gigas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Hair of Harold Roux, a book by Thomas Williams, is the most consistently interesting book I have ever read. It puts forth first and foremost characters who are so alive and surprising they never lose their interest. They vibrate whether crude or kindly through their times. Just as you think you have met a character whose reality can be matched by no other along comes another one human and real beyond imagination. Thomas Williams has the classic skill of brevity and simplicity. His style is the style of his characters whose speech lives. Williams is a master of living language. He has committed the cardinal sin of twentieth century writers: he has touched ordinary life and lived to write honestly about it. His naturalism is a beautiful blend of joy and suffering. In simple language, which he imbues with the fountain of imagination, his everyman, Aaron Benham (Allard Benson), proceeds through the tangle of his naturalistic universe whether on a motorcyle or within the vehicle of his dark nostalgia. There's nothing out there quite like it. Humility and serenity blend exquisitely with poetic anguish. There is much that I could say, for it is one of my favorite books. In a sorry time when literature has become blind and black and careless of understanding this book and other of Thomas Williams' books become like a warm campfire in a dark and terrible woods. The joy in his books reminds me of the Joy that used to be such as in Beethoven's monument (I'm serious), and the anguish haunting the shadows of his characters is the anguish of war, dismemberment, rage, failure, loneliness, loss. When I open this book, I know I can open it at any time and any page, I think to myself--yes, finally.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars our adventures, after a time, are mostly fantasies Nov. 27 2007
By Eric Maroney - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The Hair of Harold Roux is a lost classic. I had to recall it from the Library Annex. The last time my copy was in reading hands was 1983. William's novel explores both misspent youth and middle age in this novel about a novelist which could have easily descended into the uninteresting or banal. But Williams pulls it off, partly through the vibrant portraits of the virginal Mary and the randy Naomi, in the novel-within-a-novel. Here, ugly characterizations of women and minorities may be one reason for the relative obscurity of this work. But there is no authorial commitment to these views: it is a work of fantasy within a work of fantasy and safe from endorsement. All in all, the novel illustrates how time can reduce men and women as mirrors reflecting their memories.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A novel about a man writing a novel in which a character writes a novel which has a character who has also written a novel. June 27 2011
By Mary Whipple - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In this supremely literary and very exciting National Book Award winner from 1975, newly reprinted, Thomas Williams, an almost forgotten author, creates a novel about fiction writing and its relationship to the "immensities" with which every human being must contend during his lifetime. In presenting his story, Williams creates, first, Aaron Benham, a professor at a small New England college in the 1970s. Benham is writing a novel entitled The Hair of Harold Roux, in which the "thinly disguised" hero is twenty-one year-old Allard Benson, a college student on the G. I. Bill just after the close of World War II. Allard is fascinated by Mary Tolliver, a naïve freshman and devout Catholic whom he hopes to seduce. Harold Roux, an extremely sensitive romantic, is also studying on the G. I. Bill, but he must deal with the mockery and bullying of cruder, crueler students. Harold lost his hair during the war and wears a terrible toupee which he believes makes him more attractive to women. He is writing a love story called Glitter and Gold, in which a main character is also writing a novel.

While Prof. Aaron Benson is writing his story set in the well-described 1940s, he is living his own life in the 1970s, just before the end of the Vietnam War. College departments are pushing the "publish or perish" requirement for tenure and have made the life of at least one of Aaron's friends a misery, while also exerting pressure on Aaron himself. His need to write his novel has created some problems in his marriage, and he often invents personal fantasies about what he has missed with regard to other women. It is the sometimes frightening stories he creates for his children, ages six and eight, that reveal his fascination with the dramatic effects of fiction. Cuddling with them on the couch as he spins his stories, he literally "feels the story with their reality," an event so full of emotion that "he loses his voice."

As he creates Allard's novel, Thomas Williams writes some of the best and most excitingly sensuous descriptions ever. Both Aaron Benham and Allard Benson describe the freedom of flying down the road on their vintage motorcycles, Aaron indicating that only then does he "feel the symmetry of having made something out of chaos" simply by arriving home safely. When Allard Benson meets Mary Tolliver's father, he notes that the yellow-brown skin on Mr. Tolliver's face "hung as though draped over his head and tacked here and there, at the corners of his eyes and where his ears were attached to his head." When Allard visits a friend at a miniature village, he rides on a hand-crafted railway with a 1/6 scale locomotive. Sporting "three brass lanterns on its front end...the engine seemed to peer straight ahead with the powerful yet slightly moronic, clownish intensity of a cyclops."

Constantly playing with fiction vs. reality, fiction as part of reality, fiction as an alternative to reality, and the special fictions one creates for love, Williams creates a powerful, dramatic novel, filled with events which keep the reader constantly involved with his characters. It is only when sordid reality destroys all the fictions that someone has created in order to cope with everyday life, that one recognizes just how important it is to keep going by creating newer but more realistic fictions. Mary Whipple
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Midlife crisis, thoroughly explored Aug. 18 2011
By avanta7 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Aaron Benham, writer, professor, husband, father, is having a midlife crisis.

He's stalled on his latest novel; he's dealing with the hysterical mother of a missing student as well as the worried wife of a doctoral candidate who won't finish his thesis; and he's disappointed his family once again by forgetting about the family trip they had planned. During that long weekend alone, while his family has gone on without him, Aaron wrestles with age-old questions: Who am I? How did I get here? What is my purpose?

Set in New England of the early 1970s, the novel ranges through time and memory and fiction itself. We are treated to Aaron's stream-of-consciousness reminiscences of WWII Army life, the goings-on of the present day, and his struggles with his novel. In fact, we spend a lot of time inside Aaron's novel itself..."a thinly disguised memoir of his college days," to quote the back cover. And even some time inside the novel's novel...each story interconnected by outside events, haunting regrets, and foolish young decisions. Aaron's world allows him to be selfish and self-indulgent -- a guilty flaw he fully recognizes and explores at length through his own internal dialogue and that of Allard Benson, the alter ego of his novel. By the time we reach the conclusion, Aaron may or may not be a better person, but he's certainly aware.

Although it took me a little while to get into the rhythm, the story flowed easily, with beautiful language, well-drawn fully-fleshed characterizations, and smooth transitions. Well worth reading.

Thank you, LibraryThing Early Reviewers, for the opportunity to read this book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best Novel and Author I'd Never Heard Of Jan. 25 2012
By M. Carroll - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Thomas Williams wrote his National Book Award winning novel The Hair of Harold Roux decades ago, yet it remains a richly fascinating and relevant work of literature today.

There are stories within stories, 5 in all, woven together to create a ponderous exploration of life's struggles and mysteries. From the opening sentence - Aaron Benham sits at his desk hearing the wrong voices. - to the touching afterword written by his daughter, this book was captivating. There were so many intricate details to absorb, words and ideas to ponder, character motivations to analyze, fictions versus realities to discern, symbols of warm fires and the chill of absolute zero, twists of fate and luck, all written by a master. I took pages of notes as I read, not so much to help me write a review as to help me remember the unique and meaningful prose.

I was often reminded of the rich detail and style of John Irving, and was not surprised to learn he was a former student and friend of Williams. Thomas Williams never achieved Irving's commercial success in his lifetime, but based on this work, he should have. This is a highly recommended, well written novel.

Look for similar items by category