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Humpty Dumpty: An Oval

Damon Knight

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Fiction, Science fiction

Humpty Dumpty is a breakthrough work for this acknowledged master of the fantastic, an intriguing, entertaining, and immensely appealing novel of a man trying to make sense of a world gone mad. The tale begins when Wellington Stout wakes in an Italian hospital, uncertain how or why he came to be there. Gradually he learns that he was shot in the head in a Milan restaurant the night before his stepdaughter's wedding, perhaps because of a mysterious packet his brother asked him to deliver. The doctors tell him he is fortunate to be alive, but Stout has his doubts. For the bullet that has entered his skull has also opened cracks in the fabric of reality, and, as in the old nursery rhyme, no force on Earth or in Heaven can put it back together again. Soon Stout is hearing voices foretelling his doom, encountering antediluvian cabals of dentists, extraterrestrial shoe salesmen, gargantuan rodents, seductive adolescent sibyls, and giant craters opening across the face of North America, and traveling on an uncertain odyssey through a distorted landscape made of the fragments of his own life and memory.

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