Sustainable Romance

After 12 Years, the Return of Norman Rush

Mortals, c’est moi: novelist Norman Rush knows jacquerie.
photo: Jerry Bauer
Mortals, c’est moi: novelist Norman Rush knows jacquerie.

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Mortals
By Norman Rush
Alfred A. Knopf, 715 pp., $26.95
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And though Ray has learned the limits of his parity with black Africans, such seriousness is key—because Ray and Iris have it, their marriage is remarkable. By this point Ray has decided that bringing down the Soviet empire and denying Taiwan the bomb don't counterbalance CIA evil in Guatemala; he's also helped destroy a squad of Boer mercenaries by weaponizing a manuscript. Iris has wanted him to quit for years, and soon he will—not so he can save a marriage he despairs of, but so he can be truly serious. Morel has said that he longs for "a place where the rude fact that we are all dying animals transfigures every part of life," and Ray has reached that place. He has no time to waste. He's accepted the basic logic that if you're going to put marriage first in your life, you'd better have more in your life than marriage. And maybe, just maybe, he can make that logic work.

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