On Night's ShoreBook - 2001
It is the summer of 1840--for some in New York City a season of prosperity; for others, another season of desperation. Randall Silvis's On Night's Shore opens with one of the most spellbinding scenes in contemporary writing. A girl tosses her baby from a warehouse window, then follows the infant into the Hudson River far below. The only witness to this desperate act is a ten-year-old street arab named Augie Dubbins, a boy who survives by the motto, "In calamity, opportunity." Augie does what he can to make a few pennies from the girl's tragedy. In doing so he encounters another of the desperate ones, a struggling young journalist named Edgar Allan Poe, a poet and critic and newspaper hack whose penchant for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time has not only stymied his advancement as a writer but has earned him more than a few enemies. Poe, too, hopes to use the girl's misfortune to fatten his threadbare purse. His efforts to do so lead to the discovery of the body of yet another young woman, and the ensuing investigation of her murder soon entraps Poe in a mire of murder, greed, lust and power that stretches from the Five Points slums to the gleaming heights of Fifth Avenue. But On Night's Shore is much more than just a page-turner. Here we see deep into the troubled psyche of Edgar Allan Poe, the father of all detective stories. We see the darkness that drove him, the demons that plagued him. We also see the tenderness with which he treated his young wife, soon to die herself, and his devoted, stalwart mother-in-law, and the avuncular kindness he lavished on Augie Dubbins, who in ten short years has witnessed more brutality and perversity than even Poe could imagine. And we see all of these characters entwined in the tentacles of a power struggle to control the fate of New York City, the sleazy underbelly of a political and business elite that speaks as much to today's society as it did to Poe's. Seldom does an historical thriller so authentically recreate a time and place as does On Night's Shore . Not since E. L. Doctorow's Ragtime have readers been treated to such a rich cast of characters, both real and imagined, or to a story so suspenseful and compelling-all of it rendered in some of the most luminous prose being written today. i0In this, his eighth book of fiction, Randall Silvis brilliantly bridges the gap between serious and popular literature. On Night's Shore is a stunning and haunting achievement.
Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2001
Branch Call Number: MYS SIL
Characteristics: 338 p