FICTION

Feast Day of the Cannibals

Bellevue Literary. (American Novels, Bk. 6). Jul. 2019. 240p. ISBN 9781942658467. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781942658474. F
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OrangeReviewStarFans of Herman Melville and his masterpiece, Moby-Dick, will particularly enjoy this sixth installment in Lock's "American Novels" series set in 1882 Manhattan. Shelby Ross narrates the story to his childhood friend, Washington Roebling, who is in the last stages of building the Brooklyn Bridge. Ross is employed as an appraiser at the U.S. Customs House under the scrutiny of Herman Melville, who suffers as a still-living forgotten author. At work on the docks, Ross meets John Gibbs, a bully who revels in tormenting others. Melville comes to Ross's rescue when charges of falsifying appraisals are raised against him. Martin Finch, a colleague and new-found friend, invites Ross to share his dream and move to California. These plans dissolve when Finch is found by Melville, hanged from the balance beam of the scale house. Ross knows that Gibbs is behind this "suicide" and seeks revenge. Luminous historical figures such as Ulysses S. Grant, P.T. Barnum, and Samuel Clemens add to the well-rendered atmosphere, full of the people and spirit of the 1880s.
VERDICT Easily read as a stand-alone novel, this spectacular work will delight and awe readers with Lock's magisterial wordsmithing.

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