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The Destructive Element

Robert Day

For twenty years, overweight Franny and her repressed husband Harley have somehow kept their marriage together, in spite of Harley’s lack of sexual desire for his frumpy wife.  The broken state of their marriage eventually leads to Franny’s many infidelities, which in turn create mostly psychosomatic ailments that bring about a slow shattering of her health.  When, ultimately, Harley leaves her for another woman, Franny wallows in self-pity, until she finally decides to change her life. She goes on a “health” kick and gets plastic surgery and, over time, transforms herself into a sexy slim chick, attractive to both sexes and willing to indulge herself with either or both.

Harley has his own guilt problems that weigh him down. The fact that his lust for Didi (the other woman) has made him abandon an ill wife preys on him and he becomes a functioning alcoholic who becomes wildly jealous of his mistress’s roving eye. Ironically, his health begins to decline, while Franny’s life “flourishes”—at least for a while.  A literary lion on par with Don DeLillo, Duff Brenna exposes the dark underbelly of the American obsession with sex and the fear of aging.  According to the Washington Post Book World, “Brenna sees his larger-than-life creations with an unflinching eye, but also with measures of love.”

Author: Duff Brenna
Paperback : 238 pages

ISBN-10 : 194717536X
ISBN-13 : 978-1-947175-55-6


About the Author

Duff Brenna is the author of ten books, including The Book of Mamie, which won the AWP Award for Best Novel; The Holy Book of the Beard, named “an underground classic” by The New York Times; Too Cool, a New York Times Noteworthy Book; The Altar of the Body, given the Editors Prize Favorite Book of the Year Award (South Florida Sun-Sentinel), and also received a San Diego Writers Association Award for Best Novel 2002. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts award, Milwaukee Magazine’s Best Short Story of the Year Award, and a Pushcart Prize Honorable Mention. His collection of short stories, Minnesota Memoirs, was awarded first prize at the 2013 Next Generation Indie Awards in New York City. His memoir, Murdering the Mom, was a Finalist for Best Non-Fiction at the same 2013 Independent Publishers Awards. He also received a second-place award under the Grand Prize category. Brenna’s work has been translated into six languages. 


There is not a better writer of America than Duff Brenna. He understands things about the country that no one else could know without reading his books.

Thomas E. Kennedy, author of The Copenhagen Quartet

Duff Brenna is one of those storytellers who gets it right in every sentence. A master craftsman’s master craftsman. I’ve already bronzed him in my 99th percentile.

Steve Davenport, author of Bruise Songs

These pages swarm with humanity. The prose rolls along at a profound pace, unhurried and seeming to touch everything, like a river through a dark landscape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        John Griswold, author of A Democracy of Ghosts


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Jack Smith, The Writer Magazine