Oh Pure and Radiant Heart (Hardcover)

By Lydia Millet

Soft Skull Press, 9781932360851, 489pp.

Publication Date: June 6, 2005



Acclaimed author Lydia Millet's latest novel is a black-comic tour de force depicting atomic bomb creators Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, and Leo Szilard. Despite being dead, these scientists are spotted in Santa Fe by a shy librarian named Ann. She becomes convinced they are real and, to the dismay of her husband, devotes herself to them. The trio quickly acquire a sugar daddy a young pothead millionaire from Tokyo and a vast cult following of hippies, Christians, New Agers, bikers, A-bomb survivors, and curious anthropologists who join them on an RV pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. Heroes to some, lunatics or con artists to others, the scientists finally become messianic religious figureheads to fanatics who believe Oppenheimer is the Second Coming. This imaginative novel, rich with incident, brilliantly marries their journey to a history of atomic and thermonuclear weapons and to the emotionally intimate tale of a middle-class couple trying to stay hopeful about the future as they grow close to the men who gave birth to the nuclear threat.

About the Author

Born in Boston in 1968; moved to Toronto, Canada with her Egyptologist father and teacher/librarian mother two years later. Lived in Los Angeles (91-94), where she worked as a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications (of Hustler for 2 years; also Busty Beauties, S.W.A.T. (a gun magazine) and Fighting Knives: America's Most Incisive Cutlery Publication. Got a Master's in environmental policy at Duke University. Moved to New York in 1996, where she worked as a fundraiser for the Natural Resources Defense Council; then went freelance and moved to Tucson, where she now lives and writes full-time on an isolated spread in the desert, in 1999

Spends summers in Anchorage, Alaska. Contributed a number of personal essays to anthologies over the past several years, some still forthcoming, including one about fairytales, one about Star Wars ('03), one about literary books ('04), GIVE OUR REGARDS TO THE ATOMSMASHERS! (Pantheon, 2004), one about the environmental movement ('04), one about lost friendships ('05).