I can't remember the name of a book I read in a freshman lit class. Some vague details:

Its about a man whose last name is, I think, Siegel. He is perhaps 45-60 and has injuries that make him walk with a cane. He may have been an author.

There's a lot of talk about how his house is on top of this hill and it has long treacherous stone steps that he struggles to climb up and down.

He hires a young girl to work as a maid. She secretly has an abusive boyfriend and drug problems.

The girl eventually bakes glass into a casserole and intends to feed it to the man, but I believe drops it so that he never discovers her plot.

The man also might eventually fall down some icy stairs and die/gravely injure himself. Maybe she pushed him?

Some more details:

I read the story in 2012 as part of the curriculum at my community college. I don't believe it was recently published but it was not a classic either. It was set in the 21st century.

The book was English and it was an american lit class so I'm pretty sure it wasn't translated.

The book was pretty gloomy and tragic. The man slowly started warming up and enjoying life again through contact with the girl, but he never voices those opinions.

The girl was so unused to caring interactions that she was convinced the man was making fun of her. She was uneducated I think.


1 Answer 1


The Tattooed Girl by Joyce Carol Oates

Description from goodreads.com:

Joshua Seigl, a celebrated but reclusive author, is forced for reasons of failing health to surrender his much-prized bachelor's independence. Advertising for an assistant, he unwittingly embarks upon the most dangerous adventure of his privileged life.

Alma Busch, a sensuous, physically attractive young woman with bizarre tattoos covering much of her body, stirs in Seigl a complex of emotions: pity? desire? responsibility? guilt? Unaware of her painful past and her troubled personality, Seigl hires her as his assistant. As the novel alternates between Seigl's and Alma's points of view, the naïve altruism of the one and the virulent anti-Semitism of the other clash in a tragedy of thwarted erotic desire.

With her masterful balance of dark suspense and surprising tenderness, Joyce Carol Oates probes the contemporary tragedy of ethnic hatred and challenges our accepted limits of desire. The Tattooed Girl may be her most controversial novel.

Reviews mention abusive boyfriend, Dmitri and ground glass in seafood casserole.


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