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I Am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil Warby Jerome Charyn
Synopses & Reviews
Tracing the historic arc of Abraham Lincoln’s life from his picaresque days as a gangly young man in Sangamon County, Illinois, through his improbable marriage to Kentucky belle Mary Todd, to his 1865 visit to war-shattered Richmond only days before his assassination, I Am Abraham hews to the familiar Lincoln saga, seamlessly braiding Lincoln family members and military figures with a parade of fictional extras—wise-cracking knaves, conniving hangers-on, patriotic whores, and dying soldiers. Using biblically cadenced prose, cornpone nineteenth-century humor, and Lincoln’s own letters and speeches, Jerome Charyn concocts a profoundly moral but troubled commander in chief, whose relationship with his Ophelia-like wife and sons—Robert, Willie, and Tad—is explored with penetrating psychological insight, utmost compassion, and the most ingenious novelistic license. Seized by melancholy and imbued with an unfaltering sense of human worth, Charyn’s President Lincoln comes to vibrant, three-dimensional life in this haunting portrait.
"Charyn certainly manages to bring the legendary 16th president down to earth; most readers will find it hard to view the Great Emancipator the same way after reading this fictional memoir's description of him masturbating as a young man. But the novel also succeeds in making the legendary figure more accessible, using Lincoln's lifelong battle with depression as an avenue through which to explore his life and perspective. The opening section presents the president's memories of his last night, ending as Booth's bullet shatters his skull, and then flashing back to 1831 as the young Lincoln begins life in New Salem, Ill. The rest of the book traces his well-known life arc, from prairie lawyer to U.S. president. This is a warts-and-all portrayal, not only of the lead, but of central supporting figures, most especially his tempestuous and difficult wife, Mary. Charyn has managed to craft a fictional autobiography that rings emotionally true." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Narrated in Lincoln's own voice, the tragicomic promises to be the masterwork of Jerome Charyn's remarkable career.
Since publishing his first novel in 1964, Jerome Charyn has established himself as one of the most inventive and prolific literary chroniclers of the American landscape. Here in , Charyn returns with an unforgettable portrait of Lincoln and the Civil War. Narrated boldly in the first person, effortlessly mixes humor with Shakespearean-like tragedy, in the process creating an achingly human portrait of our sixteenth President.
About the Author
Jerome Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and has received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His novels include Johnny One-Eye and The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson. He lives in Paris and New York.
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