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American Meteor
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Bellevue Literary Press 2015
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"[Norman Lock's fiction] shimmers with glorious language, fluid rhythms, and complex insights." —NPR

In this panoramic tale of Manifest Destiny—the second stand-alone book in The American Novels series—Stephen Moran comes of age with the young country that he crosses on the Union Pacific, just as the railroad unites the continent. Propelled westward from his Brooklyn neighborhood and the killing fields of the Civil War to the Battle of Little Big Horn, he befriends Walt Whitman, receives a medal from General Grant, becomes a bugler on President Lincoln's funeral train, goes to work for railroad mogul Thomas Durant, apprentices with frontier photographer William Henry Jackson, and stalks General George Custer. When he comes face-to-face with Crazy Horse, his life will be spared but his dreams haunted for the rest of his days.

By turns elegiac and comic, American Meteor is a novel of adventure, ideas, and mourning: a unique vision of America's fabulous and murderous history.

Norman Lock is the award-winning author of novels, short fiction, and poetry, as well as stage, radio, and screenplays. He lives in Aberdeen, New Jersey, where he is at work on the next books of The American Novels series.

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Street Date:
05/18/2015
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781934137956
ASIN:
B00W0LPKJI
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APA Citation (style guide)

Norman Lock. (2015). American Meteor. Bellevue Literary Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Norman Lock. 2015. American Meteor. Bellevue Literary Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Norman Lock, American Meteor. Bellevue Literary Press, 2015.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Norman Lock. American Meteor. Bellevue Literary Press, 2015. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Norman Lock is the award-winning author of novels, short fiction, and poetry, as well as stage, radio, and screenplays. He has won The Dactyl Foundation Literary Fiction Award, The Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, and writing fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
        Lock's recent works of fiction include the short story collection Love Among the Particles, a Shelf Awareness Best Book of the Year, and three books in The American Novels series: The Boy in His Winter, a re-envisioning of Mark Twain's classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn that Scott Simon of NPR's Weekend Edition hailed for “make[ing] Huck and Jim so real you expect to get messages from them on your iPhone;" American Meteor, an homage to Walt Whitman and William Henry Jackson named a Firecracker Award finalist and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year; and The Port-Wine Stain, a “mesmerizingly twisted, richly layered." (New York Times Book Review) homage to Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Dent Mütter.
        Lock lives in Aberdeen, New Jersey, where he is at work on the next books of The American Novels series: A Fugitive in Walden Woods, his homage to Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Wreckage of Eden, his homage to Emily Dickinson, and Feast Day of the Cannibals, his homage to Herman Melville.

      • name: Norman Lock
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shortDescription

"[Norman Lock's fiction] shimmers with glorious language, fluid rhythms, and complex insights." —NPR

In this panoramic tale of Manifest Destiny—the second stand-alone book in The American Novels series—Stephen Moran comes of age with the young country that he crosses on the Union Pacific, just as the railroad unites the continent. Propelled westward from his Brooklyn neighborhood and the killing fields of the Civil War to the Battle of Little Big Horn, he befriends Walt Whitman, receives a medal from General Grant, becomes a bugler on President Lincoln's funeral train, goes to work for railroad mogul Thomas Durant, apprentices with frontier photographer William Henry Jackson, and stalks General George Custer. When he comes face-to-face with Crazy Horse, his life will be spared but his dreams haunted for the rest of his days.

By turns elegiac and comic, American Meteor is a novel of adventure, ideas, and mourning: a unique vision of...

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title
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fullDescription

"[Norman Lock's fiction] shimmers with glorious language, fluid rhythms, and complex insights." —NPR

In this panoramic tale of Manifest Destiny—the second stand-alone book in The American Novels series—Stephen Moran comes of age with the young country that he crosses on the Union Pacific, just as the railroad unites the continent. Propelled westward from his Brooklyn neighborhood and the killing fields of the Civil War to the Battle of Little Big Horn, he befriends Walt Whitman, receives a medal from General Grant, becomes a bugler on President Lincoln's funeral train, goes to work for railroad mogul Thomas Durant, apprentices with frontier photographer William Henry Jackson, and stalks General George Custer. When he comes face-to-face with Crazy Horse, his life will be spared but his dreams haunted for the rest of his days.

By turns elegiac and comic, American Meteor is a novel of adventure, ideas, and mourning: a unique vision of America's fabulous and murderous history.

Norman Lock is the award-winning author of novels, short fiction, and poetry, as well as stage, radio, and screenplays. He lives in Aberdeen, New Jersey, where he is at work on the next books of The American Novels series.

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reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Wall Street Journal
      • content: “In Norman Lock's recent novel The Boy in His Winter the author set Huck Finn and the escaped slave Jim on a fantastical voyage down the Mississippi River through three centuries of American history--and clear into the future. Far from a sequel to Twain's classic, that book was an intensely personal contemplation of themes such as racial injustice and environmental degradation. With his new novel, American Meteor, Mr. Lock elaborates these ideas in another disturbing meditation on our national past. . . . . Like all Mr. Lock's books, this is an ambitious work, where ideas crowd together on the page like desperate men on a battlefield."
      • premium: False
      • source: Bustle
      • content: “For a young country, the United States has had a violent and complicated history, one that is brilliantly brought to life by Norman Lock's American Meteor. An enthralling coming-of-age story that also follows the tale of Manifest Destiny, American Meteor makes history as interesting as the year's biggest blockbusters."
      • premium: False
      • source: Historical Novels Review
      • content: “[American Meteor] is not only a history lesson but also a reading pleasure."
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Journal of Books
      • content: “Like the western sky, American Meteor stretches to the horizon in all directions. . . . A lovely panorama to behold."
      • premium: False
      • source: Small Press Book Review
      • content: “Lovely, burnished prose."
      • premium: False
      • source: Four Corners Free Press
      • content: American Meteor is at its heart a frontier yarn of adventure and discovery, insight and yearning [for] readers who savor the well-turned phrase and those who demand a little swash with their buckle."
      • premium: False
      • source: Monkeybicycle
      • content: American Meteor is a fascinating, prophetic contribution to recent historical fiction, and Lock is plainly an author well worth our attention."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly (starred review)
      • content: “[American Meteor] feels like a campfire story, an old-fashioned yarn full of rich historical detail about hard-earned lessons and learning to do right."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: “Memorably encompasses grand themes and notions of transcendence without ever losing sight of the grit and moral horrors present in the period."
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist
      • content: “Rather like Thomas Berger's Little Big Man. . . . [Lock] writes beautifully, with many subtle, complex insights."
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal
      • content: “Successfully blends beautiful language reminiscent of 19th-century prose with cynicism and bald, ugly truth."
      • premium: False
      • source: Reader's Digest
      • content: “One of the most interesting writers out there."
      • premium: False
      • source: Green Mountains Review
      • content: “One of our country's unsung treasures."
      • premium: False
      • source: Bookslut
      • content: “Our finest modern fabulist."
      • premium: False
      • source: Largehearted Boy
      • content: “A master storyteller."
      • premium: False
      • source: Flavorwire
      • content: “[A] contemporary master of the form [and] virtuosic fabulist."
      • premium: False
      • source: Slice magazine
      • content: “A master of the unusual."
      • premium: False
      • source: Rumpus
      • content: “Lock's work mines the stuff of dreams."
      • premium: False
      • source: Believer
      • content: “One could spend forever worming through [Lock's] magicked words, their worlds."
      • premium: False
      • source: Detroit Metro Times
      • content: “No other writer in recent memory, lives up to [Whitman's] declaration that behind every book there is a hand reaching out to us, a hand to be held onto, a hand that has the power to touch us, to make us feel."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kenyon Review
      • content: “Lock is a rapturous storyteller, and his tales are never less than engrossing."
      • premium: False
      • source: Shelf Awareness
      • content: “Lock writes some of the most deceptively beautiful sentences in contemporary fiction. Beneath their clarity are layers of cultural and literary references, profound questions about loyalty, race, the possibility of social progress, and the nature of truth."
      • premium: False
      • source: Publishers Weekly
      • content: “Lock plays profound tricks, with language--his is crystalline and underline-worthy."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: “Lock's stories stir time as though it were a soup . . . beyond the entertainment lie 21st-century conundrums: What really exists? Are we each, ultimately, alone and lonely? Where is technology taking humankind?"
      • premium: False
      • source: Full Stop
      • content: “I can't think of another author who takes such evident, vocal delight in bending the laws of physics and geography (to say...
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from December 1, 2014
        Lock's latest historical reimagining (after the time-traveling Huck Finn novel The Boy in His Winter) follows an orphan from Brooklyn to the Battle of Little Big Horn, where he irrevocably alters history. Listening to the "clamor of my heart," 13-year-old Stephen Moran enlists in the Union Army as a bugler. His time on the battlefield comes to an abrupt end at the Battle of Five Forks, where he loses an eye, kills a Confederate soldier, and receives the Medal of Honor. While recovering, Moran meets Walt Whitman, who gets him assigned as bugler for Lincoln's funeral train to Illinois. Thus begins Moran's lifelong roving of the West, his spiritual restlessness set against the backdrop of westward-driving America—a wild, malformed place that's really Moran's primary antagonist. After riding the nascent railroads and apprenticing for photographer William Henry Jackson, Moran ends up as the personal photographer for General Custer, his story culminating in a bloody finale during Custer's Last Stand. The crafty Moran is a perfect everyman: his naïve, directionless unrest gradually cleaves from the irresponsible aggression of Manifest Destiny, for which Custer becomes a figurehead, and focuses into something far more wise, as readers witness. Likewise, Moran's tall tale is a perfect fit for Lock's storytelling: this feels like a campfire tale, an old-fashioned yarn full of rich historical detail about hard-earned lessons and learning to do right.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        April 15, 2015
        A young Civil War veteran ventures West, encountering violence and moments of revelation on his way. Lock, whose work often encompasses eras and notions of history and literature in unexpected ways, is working in a more restrained manner in this novel. Narrator Stephen Moran encounters real-life figures (including Walt Whitman and Ulysses S. Grant), his path quietly intersecting with major historical events from the Civil War to the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. Initially a bugler, Stephen loses one eye in a battle and winds up working on President Abraham Lincoln's funeral train. From there his life takes him West, which will further shape his character, especially his time working for photographer William Henry Jackson. There's a brief metaphor involving an aging Huck Finn that will stand on its own to some readers and evoke for others Lock's The Boy In His Winter (2014), in which Huck and Jim travel through decades' worth of history via the Mississippi River. Like that novel, this one is structured with an older narrator looking back over his life. As the story progresses, Stephen has fateful encounters with George Custer and Crazy Horse, leading to moments of vengeance and haunting realizations. Stephen is aware of his moral shortcomings and conscious of the racial conflicts and power struggles-some of them fatal-that play out around him. "There was room on the calendar for only one martyrdom in April," Stephen notes after a run-in with a group of Confederate sympathizers after Lincoln's death. He's a memorable narrator, seeking to understand the new medium of photography but also capable of acts of swift violence. A subplot involving his visions of the future-"It came to me in dreams. Terrible ones!" he says-arrives halfway through the book but turns out to have a solid payoff. This novel memorably encompasses grand themes and notions of transcendence without ever losing sight of the grit and moral horrors present in the period.

        COPYRIGHT(2015) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        June 1, 2015

        Stephen Moran, a teenage Union Army bugler, is chosen to accompany President Abraham Lincoln's funeral train from Washington, DC, to Springfield, IL. He then follows the Union Pacific railroad west and becomes a photographer, ending up at the Battle of Little Bighorn. Along the way, he encounters Walt Whitman, Ulysses S. Grant, Crazy Horse, and General Custer. While initially sold on the virtues of Manifest Destiny, Moran sees firsthand its dark side, and his anger toward the deliberate destruction of Native American peoples leads him to exact revenge. Stephen is by design an unreliable narrator; he states numerous times that he is a habitual liar, and many of his recollections have the feel of tall tales. Framed as a story Stephen told to his doctor at the end of his life, the narrative rambles and loops and contradicts itself. The structure, setting, and demythologizing of American westward expansion draw obvious parallels to Thomas Berger's Little Big Man. VERDICT Lock (Love Among the Particles) successfully blends beautiful language reminiscent of 19th-century prose with cynicism and bald, ugly truth. Recommended for most fiction readers.--Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis

        Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        May 1, 2015
        Like many another Irishman, Stephen Moran is snatched up by the Union Army, but because he's 16 and small, he becomes a bugler. His one attempt to fire a musket results in a blinded eye, but nonetheless General Grant pins a Medal of Honor on him and dispatches him to accompany Lincoln's body to its final resting place in Springfield. Rather like Thomas Berger's Little Big Man (1964), Stephen witnesses the building of the transcontinental railroad, the decimation of the buffalo, Indian genocide, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn, encountering not only Grant but also the despicable Union Pacific magnate Thomas Durant, the photographer William Henry Jackson, Walt Whitman, George Armstrong Custer, Sitting Bull, and the mystical Crazy Horse. It's a lot to pack into a short novel, but Lock manages it with rueful grace. Most of the story will seem familiar to any student of American history, but he writes beautifully, with many subtle, complex insights, such as, There is no greater infidelity than memory's desertion, Behind every gunman stands another gunman, and It takes time to perfect cruelty. (Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2015, American Library Association.)

series
The American Novels
popularity
115
publisher
Bellevue Literary Press
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