Brief Lives – Loretta freeman persuades her friend Bruce to write a drama about a 19th century American entertainer who told stories, performed magic tricks, wrote songs, and got into deep trouble when he strayed from his calling. Loretta coaxes her parents, who run a theater company to produce the play. The bulk of the novel gives short accounts of people involved in the production or who are interested in it. The purpose of “Brief Lives” is to illustrate a common feature of our existence. We compensate for the brevity of life and the inconveniences and sorrows that can come every day with acts of creativity.

Do you like stories about the theater?
If so, “Brief Lives” may be a novel for you. It tells about the production of a new play that a small company puts on. Each of the chapters gives a brief account of the experience of someone involved in the production or is interested in it. Two interludes look at the subject of the play from different angles from the main narrative.

Do you like American history?
If so, “Brief Lives” may be for you. The play tells the story of a man with a few talents — for comedy, magic songwriting — who performs in carnivals and fairs in the American Midwest around the time of the Civil War. He gets into serious trouble after he strays from his calling and becomes involved with gangsters who present themselves as forward-looking businessmen. What does he do to get out of his trouble?

Do experiments with narrative suit your fancy?
If so, you may enjoy the way this novel is put together, not a straight-ahead narrative, but from different points of view of people who encounter the 19th century showman and his wife.

The purpose of the novel is to show that we often compensate for everyday troubles and the brevity of life by our creativity, which ranges from ordinary inventiveness to works of surprising originality.

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