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Heyday by Kurt Andersen

Heyday (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Kurt Andersen

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4851821,184 (3.62)21
Authors:Kurt Andersen
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2007), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 622 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:library copy, finished reading, read in 2012

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Heyday by Kurt Andersen (2007)



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» See also 21 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
I got stuck in the middle and had a really hard time finishing. The plot is a bit convoluted and I had trouble keeping my attention when it jumped all over the place. ( )
  lovelypenny | Feb 4, 2016 |
I hated to leave these characters. ( )
  szbrooks1 | Jan 1, 2015 |
"Raucous fecundity" seems a bit overstated. How about "the stagy picaresque"? 'Heyday' could make a great silent movie, with parts of the film run at double speed. ( )
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
i failed to read this in September 2012. I'll try it again sometime -- I just wasn't in the mood.
  annesadleir | Nov 25, 2012 |
There's a lot of history in Kurt Anderson's historical novel "Heyday." There's a lot of geography, too. The story begins in New York City in April 1948, but makes stops in France and England before heading west all the way to San Francisco.

Along the way, the tale covers many of the momentous things going on in the world in 1848 and 1849, including the French Revolution, the utopian societies popular in America at that time, the settling of the Mormons in Salt Lake City and the California gold rush, among other developments of that time. Notable people like Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, Allan Pinkerton and Edgar Allan Poe float in and out of the story.

Mostly, however, the novel follows a group of four people who try to make the most of that exciting time. Duff and Polly Lucking are a brother and sister. Psychologically damaged by the Mexican War, Duff has become a fireman who sets his own fires. Polly is an aspiring actress who, unable to get many parts, does very well as a high-class prostitute. Their friend Timothy Skaggs, several years older, works as a writer and a photographer, but really wants to become an astronomer.

They are joined by Ben Knowles, second son of a British nobleman who seeks his fortune in America by way of France. He becomes friends with the others and quickly falls in love with Polly. They head west not realizing Ben is being pursued by a Frenchman who intends to execute him for an imagined crime during the revolution.

This is a very long novel, and at times the story seems to get lost in all that is going on. All in all, however, it is a pleasure to read. ( )
  hardlyhardy | Jul 22, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 18 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375504737, Hardcover)

Heyday is a brilliantly imagined, wildly entertaining tale of America’s boisterous coming of age–a sweeping panorama of madcap rebellion and overnight fortunes, palaces and brothels, murder and revenge–as well as the story of a handful of unforgettable characters discovering the nature of freedom, loyalty, friendship, and true love.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, modern life is being born: the mind-boggling marvels of photography, the telegraph, and railroads; a flood of show business spectacles and newspapers; rampant sex and drugs and drink (and moral crusades against all three); Wall Street awash with money; and giddy utopian visions everywhere. Then, during a single amazing month at the beginning of 1848, history lurches: America wins its war of manifest destiny against Mexico, gold is discovered in northern California, and revolutions sweep across Europe–sending one eager English gentleman off on an epic transatlantic adventure. . . .

Amid the tumult, aristocratic Benjamin Knowles impulsively abandons the Old World to reinvent himself in New York, where he finds himself embraced by three restless young Americans: Timothy Skaggs, muckraking journalist, daguerreotypist, pleasure-seeker, stargazer; the fireman Duff Lucking, a sweet but dangerously damaged veteran of the Mexican War; and Duff’s dazzling sister Polly Lucking, a strong-minded, free thinking actress (and discreet part-time prostitute) with whom Ben falls hopelessly in love.

Beckoned by the frontier, new beginnings, and the prospects of the California Gold Rush, all four set out on a transcontinental race west–relentlessly tracked, unbeknownst to them, by a cold-blooded killer bent on revenge.

A fresh, impeccable portrait of an era startlingly reminiscent of our own times, Heyday is by turns tragic and funny and sublime, filled with bona fide heroes and lost souls, visionaries (Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, Alexis de Tocqueville) and monsters, expanding horizons and narrow escapes. It is also an affecting story of four people passionately chasing their American dreams at a time when America herself was still being dreamed up–an enthralling, old-fashioned yarn interwoven with a bracingly modern novel of ideas.
"In this utterly engaging novel, the author of Turn of the Century brings 19th-century America vividly to life . . . While this is a long book, it moves quickly, with historical detail that's involving but never a drag on the action; the characters are beautifully drawn. A terrific book; highly recommended." Library Journal
"Heyday is fuled by manic energy, fanatical research, and a wicked sense of humor.... It's a joyful, wild gallop through a joyful, wild time to be an American." -Vanity Fair

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:13 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Englishman Benjamin Knowles heads for America to build a new life and joins up with three young Americans--journalist Timothy Skaggs, war veteran Duff Lucking, and Duff's actress sister, Polly--to seek their fortunes in the gold fields of California.

(summary from another edition)

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