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A Moment in the Sunby John Sayles
Synopses & Reviews
Its 1897. Gold has been discovered in the Yukon. New York is under the sway of Hearst and Pulitzer. And in a few months, an American battleship will explode in a Cuban harbor, plunging the U.S. into war. Spanning five years and half a dozen countries, this is the unforgettable story of that extraordinary moment: the turn of the twentieth century, as seen by one of the greatest storytellers of our time.
Shot through with a lyrical intensity and stunning detail that recall Doctorow and Deadwood both, A Moment in the Sun takes the whole era in its sights—from the white-racist coup in Wilmington, North Carolina to the bloody dawn of U.S. interventionism in the Philippines. Beginning with Hod Brackenridge searching for his fortune in the North, and hurtling forward on the voices of a breathtaking range of men and women—Royal Scott, an African American infantryman whose life outside the military has been destroyed; Diosdado Concepcíon, a Filipino insurgent fighting against his countrys new colonizers; and more than a dozen others, Mark Twain and President McKinleys assassin among them—this is a story as big as its subject: history rediscovered through the lives of the people who made it happen.
"Though known best as a filmmaker (Eight Men Out), Sayles is also an accomplished novelist (Union Dues), whose latest will stand among the finest work on his impressive résumé. Weighing in at nearly 1,000 pages, the behemoth recalls E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime, Pynchon's Against the Day, and Dos Passos's USA trilogy, tracking mostly unconnected characters whose collective stories create a vast, kaleidoscopic panorama of the turn of the last century. Hod Brackenridge is a miner who gets swindled in the Alaskan gold rush, is strong-armed into a boxing match, and ends up on the run after his opponent dies in the ring. Diosdado, son of a Spanish diplomat, turns against his country and the United States to fight for independence in the Philippines. The most emotionally connected story line involves the black American soldiers who breeze through fighting in Cuba but get stuck in a quagmire in the Philippines while their families back home in Wilmington, N.C., endure a campaign of murder and intimidation that forces an affluent and educated black family out of their home and into poverty in New York City. Naturally, there are cameos — Mark Twain, president McKinley — and period details aplenty that help alleviate the occasional slow patches — indeed, Hod's story line loses steam toward the end — but the flaws and muck of this big, rangy novel are part of what make it so wonderful. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"In his most spectacular work of fiction to date, filmmaker Sayles combines wonder and outrage in a vigorous dramatization of overlooked and downright shameful aspects of turn-of-the-nineteenth-century America. Crackling with rare historical details, spiked with caustic humor, and fueled by incandescent wrath over racism, sexism, and serial injustice against working people, Sayles’ hard-driving yet penetrating and compassionate saga explicates the 'fever dream' of commerce, the crimes of war, and the dream of redemption."Booklist(Starred Review)
"Sayles’s cat-squasher of a book... pulls all his characters onto a huge global stage, setting them into motion as America goes to war against Spain and takes its first giant step toward becoming a world power. The narrative is full of historical lessons of the Howard Zinn/Studs Terkel radical-revisionist school, but Sayles is too good a writer to be a propagandist; his stories tell their own lessons and many will be surprises... [A Moment in the Sun is] a long time in coming, with an ending that's one of the most memorable in recent literature. A superb novel. Kirkus(Starred Review)
About the Author
John Sayless previous novels include Pride of the Bimbos, Los Gusanos, and the National Book Awardnominated Union Dues. He has directed seventeen feature films, including Matewan, Lone Star, and Eight Men Out, and received two Academy Award nominations. His latest film, Amigo, was completed in 2010.
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