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Albany, New York, Halloween, 1938. Francis Phelan and Helen Archer are bums. She used to be a singer on the radio, he used to be a major league pitcher. Death surrounds them. Helen is sick, one of their pals has cancer, he digs graves at the cemetery and visits the grave of his infant son whom he dropped. Visions of his past haunt him, including ghosts of two men he killed. Amidst their mistakes and dereliction, they live with a code of fairness and...
This tale, set during the Depression, tells about Francis Phelan and other inhabitants of skid row in Albany, New York. Ironweed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is the best-known of William Kennedy's three Albany-based novels. Francis Phelan, ex-ballplayer, part-time gravedigger, full-time drunk, has hit bottom. Years ago he left Albany in a hurry after killing a scab during a trolley workers' strike; he ran away again after accidentally - and fatally...