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Heyday: A Novel

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Heyday: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780375504730
ISBN10: 0375504737
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Heyday is a brilliantly imagined, wildly entertaining tale of America's boisterous coming of age — a sweeping panorama of madcap rebellion and overnight fortunes, palaces and brothels, murder and revenge — as well as the story of a handful of unforgettable characters discovering the nature of freedom, loyalty, friendship, and true love.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, modern life is being born: the mind-boggling marvels of photography, the telegraph, and railroads; a flood of show business spectacles and newspapers; rampant sex and drugs and drink (and moral crusades against all three); Wall Street awash with money; and giddy utopian visions everywhere. Then, during a single amazing month at the beginning of 1848, history lurches: America wins its war of manifest destiny against Mexico, gold is discovered in northern California, and revolutions sweep across Europe — sending one eager English gentleman off on an epic transatlantic adventure...

Amid the tumult, aristocratic Benjamin Knowles impulsively abandons the Old World to reinvent himself in New York, where he finds himself embraced by three restless young Americans: Timothy Skaggs, muckraking journalist, daguerreotypist, pleasure-seeker, stargazer; the fireman Duff Lucking, a sweet but dangerously damaged veteran of the Mexican War; and Duff's dazzling sister Polly Lucking, a strong-minded, free thinking actress (and discreet part-time prostitute) with whom Ben falls hopelessly in love.

Beckoned by the frontier, new beginnings, and the prospects of the California Gold Rush, all four set out on a transcontinental race west — relentlessly tracked, unbeknownst to them, by a cold-blooded killer bent on revenge.

A fresh, impeccable portrait of an era startlingly reminiscent of our own times, Heyday is by turns tragic and funny and sublime, filled with bona fide heroes and lost souls, visionaries (Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, Alexis de Tocqueville) and monsters, expanding horizons and narrow escapes. It is also an affecting story of four people passionately chasing their American dreams at a time when America herself was still being dreamed up — an enthralling, old-fashioned yarn interwoven with a bracingly modern novel of ideas.

Review:

"This historical novel may surprise readers who know Kurt Andersen as the cofounder of Spy magazine and the author of the wise and acerbic Turn of the Century (1999). It's set in the mid-19th century, for one thing, and not — at least not ostensibly — about media or celebrity. Benjamin Knowles is a young Englishman infatuated with all things American, including and especially the part-time actress/part-time prostitute Polly Lucking, whom he meets on his first passage to New York. Just as Knowles and Polly are about to go public with their love, Knowles does that boy-thing — i.e., says something stupid — and she flees New York. It's worth getting through the slowish beginning to arrive at the delightful, intelligent last two-thirds of this long novel when Knowles teams up with Polly's damaged brother, Duff, and family friend, Timothy Scaggs, a journalist of sorts, in a trek west in search of the freethinking Ms. Lucking, with a murderer just behind them (it's a subplot). Andersen's second novel is more than just a love story or a history lesson (though there are details included that make it clear how much research Andersen did); it's a true novel of ideas. The group visits a 19th-century health farm/cult, for example. The occasional historical figure — e.g., Charles Darwin — makes an appearance as well. There are shades of T.C. Boyle's The Road to Wellville, as well as aspirations toward E.L. Doctorow. But in the end, this second novel belongs to Andersen, a tale of bright, rambunctious, aspiring young people. Like them, the book is rowdy, knowing — and wholly American." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Sooner or later, every novelist in Washington, having divulged his trade at some drink-laden function, will learn, if he hasn't already, that a significant chunk of this city considers novels a grand waste of time. Because they're made up, for God's sake!

The upholders of truth very occasionally will open the door just a crack to let in historical fiction — but only because it allows... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"If its ripping plot twists don't hook you...then you're bound to be snared by the scads of riveting historical details Andersen artfully dollops onto every page....It'll be just as enjoyable in 150 years as it is today. (Grade: A)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"Heyday is fuled by manic energy, fanatical research, and a wicked sense of humor....It's a joyful, wild gallop through a joyful, wild time to be an American." Vanity Fair

Review:

"In this utterly engaging novel, the author...brings 19th-century America vividly to life....While this is a long book, it moves quickly, with historical detail that's involving but never a drag on the action; the characters are beautifully drawn. A terrific book; highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Although the amount of irrelevant historical detail overwhelms the plot, this overstuffed parody of a Victorian novel makes some serious points: it succeeds in exposing the peculiarities and ridiculousness of nineteenth-century society — and contemporary reverence for it." Booklist

Review:

"The present-day resonance of Heyday can be witty....But the weight of its factoids and conversation-piece data keep it anchored in its own particular moment." Janet Maslin, The New York Times

Review:

"Andersen's novel is a major historical work, of lore and wisdom, irony and humor — the kind of historical novel that has always been the most satisfying to read." Los Angeles Times

Review:

"Andersen has researched his material well enough to be at home with it, and the seams between fiction and nonfiction almost never show....In Heyday, as in the best historical fiction, the future doesn't seem predetermined but exists as a series of possibilities..." Houston Chronicle

Review:

"Spanning vast intellectual and geographic territory, Heyday portrays the growing pains of changing societies, measuring with a confident pace the opportunities and pitfalls that mark such times....[A] superb work of fiction..." Rocky Mountain News

Review:

"Mr. Andersen peoples Heyday with appealing characters, plausibly of their time and place....Heyday is not the smooth concoction that a more experienced historical novelist...would make from the same ingredients. But it's an impressive effort nonetheless." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"It's a mighty busy and messy story...but Heyday is also a sweet book, with a tropism toward redemption and happy endings." Geoffrey Wolff, The New York Times Book Review

Synopsis:

In a sweeping, brilliantly imagined romp through the boisterous coming of age of America, Anderson has written an irresistible old-fashioned epic as well as a thoroughly modern novel of ideas. This is a gritty, authentic, vivid story unlike any other.

About the Author

Kurt Andersen is the author of Turn of the Century, a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book. He also writes a column for New York magazine and hosts the Peabody Award-winning public radio program Studio 360. He was a co-founder of Spy magazine and has been a columnist and critic for the New Yorker and Time. Andersen lives with his wife and daughters in New York.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

CBensen, April 29, 2008 (view all comments by CBensen)
Anderson's novel Heyday is reminiscent of John Jakes' Bicentennial Series from the 1970s. The story is set in 1848 and the characters are always running into famous people. Oh look who came to dinner! Charles Darwin! Let's buy some soap in Cincinnatti from Mr. Proctor's store! Guess who's law partner they meet in Springfield, Illinois? This was tedious to say the least and annoying after awhile. Although I appreciated that the author researched the era thoroughly, and I learned some new things (like the Croton system of water for NYC), it was just too clever by half.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

ISBN:
9780375504730
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Andersen, Kurt
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
General
Subject:
History
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
General Fiction
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st
Publication Date:
March 6, 2007
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
640
Dimensions:
9.48x6.40x1.67 in. 2.21 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Heyday: A Novel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.95 In Stock
Product details 640 pages Random House - English 9780375504730 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This historical novel may surprise readers who know Kurt Andersen as the cofounder of Spy magazine and the author of the wise and acerbic Turn of the Century (1999). It's set in the mid-19th century, for one thing, and not — at least not ostensibly — about media or celebrity. Benjamin Knowles is a young Englishman infatuated with all things American, including and especially the part-time actress/part-time prostitute Polly Lucking, whom he meets on his first passage to New York. Just as Knowles and Polly are about to go public with their love, Knowles does that boy-thing — i.e., says something stupid — and she flees New York. It's worth getting through the slowish beginning to arrive at the delightful, intelligent last two-thirds of this long novel when Knowles teams up with Polly's damaged brother, Duff, and family friend, Timothy Scaggs, a journalist of sorts, in a trek west in search of the freethinking Ms. Lucking, with a murderer just behind them (it's a subplot). Andersen's second novel is more than just a love story or a history lesson (though there are details included that make it clear how much research Andersen did); it's a true novel of ideas. The group visits a 19th-century health farm/cult, for example. The occasional historical figure — e.g., Charles Darwin — makes an appearance as well. There are shades of T.C. Boyle's The Road to Wellville, as well as aspirations toward E.L. Doctorow. But in the end, this second novel belongs to Andersen, a tale of bright, rambunctious, aspiring young people. Like them, the book is rowdy, knowing — and wholly American." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "If its ripping plot twists don't hook you...then you're bound to be snared by the scads of riveting historical details Andersen artfully dollops onto every page....It'll be just as enjoyable in 150 years as it is today. (Grade: A)"
"Review" by , "Heyday is fuled by manic energy, fanatical research, and a wicked sense of humor....It's a joyful, wild gallop through a joyful, wild time to be an American."
"Review" by , "In this utterly engaging novel, the author...brings 19th-century America vividly to life....While this is a long book, it moves quickly, with historical detail that's involving but never a drag on the action; the characters are beautifully drawn. A terrific book; highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Although the amount of irrelevant historical detail overwhelms the plot, this overstuffed parody of a Victorian novel makes some serious points: it succeeds in exposing the peculiarities and ridiculousness of nineteenth-century society — and contemporary reverence for it."
"Review" by , "The present-day resonance of Heyday can be witty....But the weight of its factoids and conversation-piece data keep it anchored in its own particular moment."
"Review" by , "Andersen's novel is a major historical work, of lore and wisdom, irony and humor — the kind of historical novel that has always been the most satisfying to read."
"Review" by , "Andersen has researched his material well enough to be at home with it, and the seams between fiction and nonfiction almost never show....In Heyday, as in the best historical fiction, the future doesn't seem predetermined but exists as a series of possibilities..."
"Review" by , "Spanning vast intellectual and geographic territory, Heyday portrays the growing pains of changing societies, measuring with a confident pace the opportunities and pitfalls that mark such times....[A] superb work of fiction..."
"Review" by , "Mr. Andersen peoples Heyday with appealing characters, plausibly of their time and place....Heyday is not the smooth concoction that a more experienced historical novelist...would make from the same ingredients. But it's an impressive effort nonetheless."
"Review" by , "It's a mighty busy and messy story...but Heyday is also a sweet book, with a tropism toward redemption and happy endings."
"Synopsis" by , In a sweeping, brilliantly imagined romp through the boisterous coming of age of America, Anderson has written an irresistible old-fashioned epic as well as a thoroughly modern novel of ideas. This is a gritty, authentic, vivid story unlike any other.
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