From Karl Iagnemma, recipient of the Paris Review Plimpton Prize, comes a fierce and gorgeous story of an estranged father and son’s 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 Michigan’s 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 expedition’s departure, Elisha pens a heartfelt letter to his mother in Newell, Massachusetts. But it is Elisha’s 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 about—Reverend 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 Elisha’s 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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: The Expeditions|
|Release Date: 12-26-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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|Parent title||The Expeditions|
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The appointment was at ten o’clock on Lafayette Street, on the city’s west side, and Elisha stepped from his boardinghouse at six that morning into a gauzy gray mist. Draft horses slapped down the muddy street, hauling drays loaded with potatoes and cabbages. He strolled down the sidewalk to Jefferson Avenue, drank a mug of milk as he listened to a newsboy call out the morning’s headlines: White woman elopes with Negro servant to Windsor! Settlers burned alive in Shelby by savage Chippewas! He felt a familiar nervous chill at the city’s rush and clamor. The air smelled sweetly foul, like burning trash.
He walked down Jefferson to Woodward Avenue then up to the Military Square, where a group of men were unloading red lacquered trunks from a caravan of weather-worn buggies. A handbill tacked to a message board at the square’s entrance read:
traveling exhibition of fabulous beasts l. gasperi—animal trainer extraordinaire see camels from arabia—elephants from siam— llamas from the bolivian mountains admission fee: one dime
As Elisha watched, one of the men unlatched the door of a high-sided wagon and led a frail, shaggy camel by a rope knotted around its neck. The animal stepped gingerly, twisting its long neck to gaze at its surroundings. Elisha drew a notebook from his vest pocket and licked a stub of pencil, sketched the animal’s head and oddly humped back. The camel’s handler glanced over his shoulder and called, “Hey boyo, no free looks! Come back tonight, you want to see!”
Elisha started up Michigan Avenue into the Irish quarter and its cramped, hustling streets.