ISBN10: 0374159963 ISBN13: 9780374159962 Publisher: Farrar Straus & Giroux Published: Jun 1 1998 Pages: 355 Weight: 1.40lbs. Height: 9.50" Width: 6.25" Depth: 1.25" Language: English
Richard Powers's Gain attempts nothing less than a history of America as told through the tale of a singular enterprise. When three Boston merchant brothers coax from an Irish immigrant the secret of making fine soap, they set in motion a chain of events that will spin a family-run cottage soapworks into a multinational consumer-goods giant by the millennium's end.
Set against the sweeping, 170-year rise of the Clare Soap and Chemical Corporation is the contemporary story of Laura Bodey, a real-estate broker. Laura, her two teenage children, and her ex-husband all live in Lacewood. Illinois, a place that owes its very existence to the regional Clare factories that have nursed the town from nothing. The Clare Agricultural Division now sponsors every aspect of Lacewood, from the corn boil to the college library. But when a cyst on Laura's ovary turns malignant and the local industry is implicated, the insignificant individual and the corporate behemoth collide, forever changing the shape of American life.
Gain examines the runaway experiment of modern business and where that experiment has left us. Gain is at once Powers's most historically ambitious and his most accessible novel to date.