Fiction by John Gardner
The final novel by John Gardner, Mickelsson’s Ghosts, originally published in 1982 just months before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident, is a tour de force. The protagonist Peter Mickelsson, a former star philosophy professor at Brown, relocates to Binghamton University. On the verge of bankruptcy, separated from his wife, in questionable mental health, and drinking heavily, Mickelsson decides to buy a country house in northeastern Pennsylvania. What he encounters there are impassioned and shameless love affairs (one of which results in a regrettable pregnancy), a Mormon extremist cult, small town mythologies, the robbery of a robber, multiple murders, the ghosts of an incestuous family, Plato, and our hero’s own possible insanity.