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The Expeditionsby Karl Iagnemma
Synopses & Reviews
From Karl Iagnemma, recipient of the Paris Review Plimpton Prize, comes a fierce and gorgeous story of an estranged father and sons unlikely journey though the wilderness of nineteenth-century America.
The year is 1844. Sixteen-year-old runaway Elisha Stone is in Detroit, a hardscrabble frontier town on the edge of the civilized world. A canny survivor with the instincts of a born naturalist, Elisha signs on to an expedition into Michigans vast, uncharted Upper Peninsula. The party is led by two charismatic adventurers: Silas Brush, a ruthless land-grabbing ex-soldier, and George Tiffin, a quixotic professor desperate to discover proof of his unorthodox theories about the origins of man.
On the eve of the expeditions departure, Elisha pens a heartfelt letter to his mother in Newell, Massachusetts. But it is Elishas estranged father, the Reverend William Edward Stone, who opens the envelope. Grief-stricken by the recent death of his wife a death Elisha could not have known aboutReverend Stone is jolted into action: he must find his son.
What follows is a powerful narrative about the complex love between fathers and sons and an evocative portrait of an era of faith, wonder, and violence. While Elishas journey draws him deeper into uncharted territory, Reverend Stone must navigate through a country in turmoil as he moves toward an inevitable reunion with a son who has become a stranger. A first novel of uncommon wisdom, The Expeditions is the confirmation of an extraordinary talent.
"a haunting coming-of-age tale set in an emerging nation groping for identity,the first novel from MIT research scientist Iagnemma follows his story collection, On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction. Working his way across the country at 16 in 1844, Elisha Stone dreams of becoming a naturalist after running away from his aging Massachusetts minister father and ailing mother three years earlier. He signs on as an assistant to survey expedition leader Silas Brush, but the guide, a ne'er-do-well named Ignace Morel, disappears as the party is set to depart for the unexplored northern Michigan peninsula. Ignace's wife, a beautiful half Chippewa woman named Susette, takes over as guide at a time when woman guides were unheard of. Back in Massachusetts, the Reverend Stone, who is slipping unknowingly into opium addiction, receives a dramatic letter Elisha has sent to his mother, who has died. Impulsively, the guileless minister sets out to find Elisha, ostensibly to tell him of his mother's death, but also to reconcile with his son. The plot is marvelously structured, and the secondaries (including humbug Jonah Crawley and his teenage clairvoyant fiance, Adele Grainger) add real color. Beautifully written and outstandingly researched, Iagnemma's first novel is a keeper." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From award-winning author Iagnemma comes a fierce and gorgeous story of an estranged father and son's unlikely journey though the wilderness of 19th- century America.
About the Author
Karl Iagnemmas work has won the Paris Review Plimpton Prize and been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories. He is a research scientist in the mechanical engineering department at M.I.T. His collection, On the Nature of Human Romantic Interaction, is available from Dial Press Trade Paperbacks.
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