Synopses & Reviews
A haunting story told with insight and powerful language, The Night Inspector chronicles an unforgettable character who navigates the desperate days and sleepless nights of a gilded yet polluted nineteenth-century New York.
William Bartholomew, a maimed veteran of the Civil War, returns from the battlefields to New York City a hardened man, bent on reversing his fortunes. Much of the lower half of his face was torn apart when he was felled by enemy fire, and he is forced to wear a mask in his postwar life as a New York financial speculator. Despite the solitude of his past life, Bartholomew, once a deadly sniper, now lives among all manner of slum dwellers, thieves, and murderers. As he prowls the city, he becomes involved with Jessie, a Creole prostitute who engages him in a venture that has its origins in the complexities and despair of the Civil War. And he befriends a deputy inspector of customs named Herman Melville--who, largely forgotten as a writer, is condemned to live in the wake of his vanished literary success and in the turmoil of his fractured family.
As with his other works, Frederick Busch leaves us breathless with the mastery of his prose and the power of his storytelling. But never before has he delved the depths of this country's heart and soul as magnificently as he does with The Night Inspector. His depictions of the Civil War are harrowing as we witness the mayhem of battle through a marksman's eyes. It is a gripping portrait--of a nation trying to heal from the ravages of war, of the desolation of a people searching for hope in the burgeoning of a new age, and of one man's attempts at recapturing a taste for life through the surging currents of his own emotions, ambitions, and conscience.
About the Author
Frederick Busch's most recent book, Girls, was a New York Times Notable book for 1997. His short story collection, The Children in the Woods, was a finalist for the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. He has received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in short fiction, the National Jewish Book Award, as well as an award for fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He has held Woodrow Wilson, National Endowment for the Arts, James Merrill, and Guggenheim fellowships and has been acting director of the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. The Edgar Fairchild Professor of Literature at Colgate University, he teaches creative writing and fiction and also directs the Living Writers program.