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A Pound of Flesh
By: Kenneth Butler
About the Book
Thirty-three-year-old poet Paxton Graham is recovering in a Boston hospital from injuries sustained when a bomb detonates in a local restaurant. FBI agents inform him that the attack was the work of an animal rights group, and the chief conspirator is none other than his wife, Erika. Paxton’s big problem with this information? Erika’s been dead for six years, a result of an accident caused by Paxton’s drunk driving.
Paxton refuses to believe the agents’ claim and after losing his job, apartment, and pet hamster all in the same afternoon, accepts a business offer to manage a store in a small town on the New England coast. Here he encounters Hayley, an eighteen-year-old poetry freak, who he allows to complicate his already unmanaged life. A public sex scandal ensues, transforming Paxton into a local pariah while he uncovers more evidence that Erika may in fact be alive. He finds himself involved in a clandestine transaction involving Grigori Rasputin’s preserved penis that takes him and Hayley through the wilds of Maine to a late sexologist’s laboratory/museum.
A Pound of Flesh will both entertain readers and lead many to reconsider some of their assumptions. It speaks to the lack of a standard notion of ethical behavior and the lengths to which people—especially the wealthy and politically passionate—will go to preserve the appearance of virtue. In the end though, Paxton’s journey challenges and inspires hope for redemption for even the most downtrodden among us.
About the Author
Kenneth Butler’s first novel, Holy Fool, was published in 2015. His produced plays include Chinese Checkers, Cannibals, and a stage version of A Pound of Flesh. He has taught English and History at the Woodward School, Phillips Exeter Academy, the Holderness School, and Shortridge Academy. He lives in New Hampshire.
(2020, paperback, 218 pages)