Synopses & Reviews
Massive debts and alcoholism. Drug abuse and failed courtships. And then, dead by his own hand, just three years after his triumphant return from the Pacific. Thus, on October 11, 1809, Meriwether Lewis became the tragic hero of one of the great untold stories of American history.
Now, for the 200th anniversary of his death, Bill Lewis, a high-school history teacher, is writing a book about his famous namesake that tells the rest of the story, one that includes the man who killed Alexander Hamilton--the traitor Aaron Burr--his daughter Theodosia (who believed she and her father would seize control of the western U.S. and Mexico and become emperors}, the writer Washington Irving, and the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley's wido, Mary. Meanwhile, Bill has problems of his own. his 14-year-old son Henry won't eat. He's gotten pulled into the troubled life of a pregnant student. And his clinical depression is back, which puts the fate of everything--his book, his family, his 13-year marraige to Emily, and his survival past 40--into even greater uncertainty. If he can only explain the mystery of why Meriwether ended his life as he did before Bill loses himself irrevocably in the compelling voice of his namesake.
In this rich, confident debut novel, Michael Pritchett not only authentically recreates the world through which Lewis and Clark forced their way but also finds extraordinary parallels between Capt. Lewis's doubt about manifest destiny and the contemporary uncertainty of the introspective modern male at a time when all our values are in question.
"'Pritchett (The Venus Tree) retells the saga of Meriwether Lewis (of Lewis and Clark fame) from the perspective of Bill Lewis, a modern-day high school teacher who is writing a book about the explorer. Shuttling between the early 19th and 21st centuries, the twin narratives contrast the historic exploits of Lewis's life with the more mundane events of Bill's suburban existence. Lewis explores the Northwest Passage, makes Indian policy as governor of the Louisiana Territory, becomes peripherally involved with the traitorous Aaron Burr and takes his own life only three years after his return from the West Coast. In the present, a clinically depressed Bill, prone to suicidal thoughts tries to finish his book while dealing with a deeply troubled marriage, a teenage son with an eating disorder, a student who drops out of school after becoming pregnant and a dangerous flirtation with a friend's wife. Pritchett raises classic questions about the nature of heroism and society's need for (and treatment of) heroes. Oddly, however, Lewis the adventurer remains muted, while Bill's disintegrating life, with all its quotidian disappointments and conundrums, is heartbreakingly affecting.' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Packed with strange characters and striking discoveries, The Melancholy Fate of Capt. Lewis explores one of America's most legendary adventures and surveys the emotional landscape of its sorry hero
Absorbing, insightful and heartrending
the mix of modern and 18th-century events is strange and startling. Pritchett has created two distinct but entwined voices that provide an absorbing reenactment of history and what goes on in a writer's mind.”Ron Charles, The Washington Post Book World
With publication of Michael Pritchett's debut novel, "The Melancholy Fate of Captain Lewis," Unbridled has again introduced an extraordinary writer to the world
the novel will also stay with me for a long time, because Bill Lewis and Pritchett's other fictional creations are so skillfully rendered.”The Denver Post
"Pritchett has achieved something pretty intricate here: He has wrapped the real-life explorer Meriwether Lewis in a contemporary fiction. The tension between past and present, reality and imagination, helps give the book its considerable urgency."Kansas City Star
the life of explorer Lewis is juxtaposed with that of his modern-day biographer, Bill Lewis, a high school teacher who struggles against his own depression. Pritchett, a writing teacher at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, shows that past and present have more in common than we usually believe.”Oregonian
was immediately drawn in
[R]esolves the double-layered journey into a sweet and satisfying chord.”Montana Magazine
The Melancholy Fate of Capt. Lewis is a truly splendid novel of history, one that illuminates the great themes that such novels uniquely can. It shows us how the past is always with us and how the passions and tremblings of the human spirit endure even the passage of centuries. With this book, Michael Pritchett has instantly established himself as one of our finest novelists.”Robert Olen Butler
A challenging novel that can lead you to reconsider one of our country's greatest adventure stories.”Seattle Times
"The alternating sections reveal Pritchett's mastery of voice . . . this is a remarkable exploration of the life of one of history's great explorers."St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The special eloquence of Michael Pritchett's new novel about Lewis and Clark is rooted in his understanding of the melancholy that follows discovery and the closure of distance. When the unknown turns into the known, it is domesticated and thus becomes ours. In this story, the New World turns almost instantly into the Old World, and the melancholy we all suffer from is laid bare, with understanding, compassion, eloquence, and drama, in two parallel narratives that are unforgettable." Charles Baxter
"An intricate, intelligent and absorbing novel." Margot Livesey
When high-school history teacher Bill Lewis decides to write a biography of Meriwether Lewis, he becomes engrossed in both the triumphs and tragedies of the great explorer
the side-by-side story lines complement and reinforce one another
Pritchetts contemporary twist illuminates an old subject in a new light.”Booklist
In this rich, confident debut novel, Pritchett not only authentically recreates the world through which Lewis and Clark forced their way but also finds extraordinary parallels between Capt. Lewiss doubt about manifest destiny and the contemporary uncertainty that surrounds the modern male.
While writing a biography of his famous namesake, Bill Lewis, a high-school history teacher, nearly loses himself in his attempts to understand one of the great untold stories in American historythe adventures and subsequent suicide of Meriwether Lewis. Even as he struggles to illuminate that strange and exuberant time and and falls under the spell of the elusively seductive persona of Capt. Lewis, Bill finds himself fighting his own personal crisis, brought on by a clinical depression that threatens not only his book, but his job, his family, his 13-year marriage, and his own survival past the age of 40.
In this rich, confident debut novel, Michael Pritchett not only authentically recreates the world through which Lewis and Clark forced their way, but also finds extraordinary parallels between Capt. Lewiss doubt about manifest destiny and the contemporary uncertainty of the introspective modern male at a time when all our values are in question.