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The Smallest Color

A Novel

List Price: $16.95

November 12, 2002 | Paperback | 5.8 x 9, 336 Pages | ISBN 9781582432526
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"This is a piercing novel, one that perfectly captures the seismic upheaval of the end of the '60s." —Publishers Weekly

Coop Henry’s terrible secret about his older brother is eating up his life. In this extraordinary first novel about two brothers — one alive, one presumed missing — the thirty-year secret that has kept Coop bound in silence suddenly threatens to leak. What really happened to Hodge Henry? His younger brother, Coop, certainly knows, yet he has managed to keep up a decades-long charade that has fooled everyone. When Coop’s marriage falters, when his job as Olympic ski coach is threatened, when his canny mother threatens to hire the best detective in the country in one last, vain attempt to retrieve a missing son, Coop cracks. But lovely Veronica has suddenly come along; she’s young enough to give Coop pause, compelling enough in mind and body to convince him to act, even if it means losing his job, his home, and his secret.

The Smallest Color is the story of Coop’s attempt to remember the past, that devastating summer of 1969 when everything seemed possible, when his brother was still alive. Like Sue Miller in When I Was Gone, or Philip Roth in American Pastoral, Bill Roorbach re-imagines the sixties, when radical acts threatened to destroy a domestic bliss we may have had no claim to. Alternating between then and now, the two brilliant cables of the novel interweave the past and present into a portrait of time itself in this unforgettable story of brotherly love, loss, and deliverance.

About Bill Roorbach

BILL ROORBACH is the author of three previous books, including Big Bend, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. He has taught at Ohio State and the University of Maine and now lives in western Maine with his wife and daughter.


“This is a piercing novel, one that perfectly captures the seismic upheaval of the end of the ’60s.” —Publishers Weekly

“This first novel brilliantly and compassionately recalls the turbulence of the Sixties as well as the violent yet idealistic fringes of the antiwar movement.” —Library Journal

“The effect, for the reader, of listening in on Coop’s confessions and glimpsing his tortured consciousness is both unsettling and powerful. A compelling coming-of-middle-age novel.” —Booklist

The Smallest Color is better than good, better than terrific, it is, well, wonderful.” Lee K. Abbott, author of All Things All at Once

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