These protagonists want something just out of reach, and end up being the unintentional authors of their own astringent tragedies.
And yet, there was always an astringent, bleakly humorous honesty to the man.
astringent as·trin·gent (ə-strĭn'jənt)
Causing contraction of tissues, arrest of secretion, or control of bleeding. n.
A substance or preparation, such as alum, that draws together or constricts body tissues and is effective in stopping the flow of blood or other secretions.