Back is the story of Charley Summers, who is back from the war and a POW camp having lost the woman he loved, Rose, to illness before he left and his leg to fighting. In other words, Charley has very little to come back to, only memories, and on top of that he has been deeply traumatized by his experience of war. Rose’s father introduces him to another young woman, Nancy, and Charley becomes convinced that she is in fact Rose and pursues her. Back is at once a Shakespearean comedy of mistaken identities, a voyage into the world of madness, and a celebration of the improbable healing powers of love.
About the Author
Henry Green (1905–1973) was the pen name of Henry Vincent Yorke. Born near Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, England, he was educated at Eton and Oxford and went on to become the managing director of his family’s engineering business, writing novels in his spare time. His first novel, Blindness (1926), was written while he was at Oxford. He married in 1929 and had one son, and during the Second World War served in the Auxiliary Fire Service. Between 1926 and 1952 he wrote nine novels, Blindness, Living, Party Going, Caught, Loving, Back, Concluding, Nothing, and Doting, and a memoir, Pack My Bag.
Deborah Eisenberg is the author of four collections of short stories and a play, Pastorale. She is the winner of the 2000 Rea Award for the Short Story, a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and five O. Henry Awards. The Collected Stories of Deborah Eisenberg won the 2011 PEN/Faulkner Award and in 2015 she was awarded the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story. She lives in New York City.
“Henry Green is nearer than almost any other to the spirit and what one might call the central nerve of our time.” —Elizabeth Bowen
“Green questions what it could mean to come ‘back’ from a war that hasn’t ended in reality or memory. In this quick and engrossing novel, Green reveals that living and loving are more about embracing failures and making frequent recalibrations than striving toward unattainable ideals.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“To describe his scenes as having the visual clarity of the best movie shots does not convey their peculiar quality of hallucination. To say that his plots are hinged on certain fatal situations from myth and fable does not carry over Green’s feeling for our particular fate in modern life, or the compulsive fears and anxieties of his characters for their modern fate, especially for organizations represented by initials.” —Mark Schorer, The New York Times Book Review
“Back is Henry Green’s most extended attempt to plumb the world of the hunted—and haunted.” —Jeremy Treglown
"Writing that shines with wit and good humor." —Time
The skillful coupling of love talk and office terminology, the dexterous handling of characters who seem at first glance to be picked bone clean but who turn into cream, and the view of a world just a little off center make Back a delightful, wispy and original experience.
In all of these novels we are made aware of the most profound and surprising truths about life, love and the human heart without being able to pinpoint any one page, line, or moment of epiphany. To read all three back-to-back is to find oneself in the presence of rare genius, fit to sit along Woolf, Fitzgerald and Joyce on anyone’s shelf of classics. Henry Green is here to stay.
—David Wright, The Seattle Times
A spare and eventually incredibly moving story of hope lost and regained, and of scars that never fully heal.
—John Williams, “The Book Reader,” NY1
"The skillful coupling of love talk and office terminology, the dexterous handling of characters who seem at first glance to be picked bone clean but who turn into cream, and the view of a world just a little off center make Back a delightful, wispy and original experience." —Kirkus