Oh Pure and Radiant Heart

Oh pure and radiant heart, by Lydia MilletOh Pure and Radiant Heart, by Lydia Millet, ends up being a disappointment, but only because the last few hundred pages pale in comparison to the incomprehensible brilliance of the first 250. Honestly, the beginning is outstanding, so it’s not really Millet’s fault that the rest can’t compare. Once you bring the three forefathers of the atomic bomb back from the dead, it’s a difficult proposition to know what to do with them, exactly. It’s one of those mediocre-by-comparison ordeals; if the start of the book were less spectacular, would the entire book perhaps seem more genius? Despite these misgivings, I’d tend to recommend this book, and heartily, at that. Lydia Millet manages to combine humor, drama, and social criticism in ways you wouldn’t think were possible. More impressively, she gives credible voices to the dead physicists, making Leo Szilard, Robert Oppenheimer, and Enrico Fermi powerful characters in her work.