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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

BLOG TOUR: I Am Abraham by Jerome Charyn

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers, the place to be when you're in the mood for some wordy fun and the genre or subject is left up to happenstance; you know I won't disappoint.  ^_^

Today, we welcome a Tribute Books blog tour starring a Historical Fiction book from an author with a LONG list of titles attributed to his name.  It fits into our "month of love" celebration as the central character is a figure I have immense respect for thanks to an intense History project in High School.  Yes, we're talking lots of research, assembling of information, final presentation complete with a photo booklet, counts for half your grade sorta report.  Believe it or not, I had a blast!  My History teacher even asked to keep it over the summer so he could read it more closely.  *smiles*  Curious to find out who it was and more importantly the book that brought all this to the forefront of my mind?  Gents, grab your stovepipe hats, ladies, your white's time to greet today's blog tour guest and book of choice....

I Am Abraham
Jerome Charyn

Narrated in Lincoln’s own voice, the tragicomic I Am Abraham promises to be the masterwork of Jerome Charyn’s remarkable career.
Since publishing his first novel in 1964, Jerome Charyn has established himself as one of the most inventive and prolific literary chroniclers of the American landscape. Here in I Am Abraham, Charyn returns with an unforgettable portrait of Lincoln and the Civil War. Narrated boldly in the first person, I Am Abraham effortlessly mixes humor with Shakespearean-like tragedy, in the process creating an achingly human portrait of our sixteenth President.
Tracing the historic arc of Lincoln's life from his picaresque days as a gangly young lawyer in Sangamon County, Illinois, through his improbable marriage to Kentucky belle Mary Todd, to his 1865 visit to war-shattered Richmond only days before his assassination, I Am Abraham hews closely to the familiar Lincoln saga. Charyn seamlessly braids historical figures such as Mrs. Keckley—the former slave, who became the First Lady's dressmaker and confidante—and the swaggering and almost treasonous General McClellan with a parade of fictional extras: wise-cracking knaves, conniving hangers-on, speculators, scheming Senators, and even patriotic whores.
We encounter the renegade Rebel soldiers who flanked the District in tattered uniforms and cardboard shoes, living in a no-man's-land between North and South; as well as the Northern deserters, young men all, with sunken, hollowed faces, sitting in the punishing sun, waiting for their rendezvous with the firing squad; and the black recruits, whom Lincoln’s own generals wanted to discard, but who play a pivotal role in winning the Civil War. At the center of this grand pageant is always Lincoln himself, clad in a green shawl, pacing the White House halls in the darkest hours of America’s bloodiest war.
Using biblically cadenced prose, cornpone nineteenth-century humor, and Lincoln’s own letters and speeches, Charyn concocts a profoundly moral but troubled commander in chief, whose relationship with his Ophelia-like wife and sons—Robert, Willie, and Tad—is explored with penetrating psychological insight and the utmost compassion. Seized by melancholy and imbued with an unfaltering sense of human worth, Charyn’s President Lincoln comes to vibrant, three-dimensional life in a haunting portrait we have rarely seen in historical fiction.




This is one of those books that one must allow to speak for itself.  For me, I enjoyed the read overall, but I found it hard to reconcile the character of Mr. Lincoln with the man I came to know during my own research so many odd years ago.  Here, I found him a bit too lost within the opposite sex (I swear one more prairie type reference to female anatomy and I was going to close the cover at one point), a man of even less words  and even less actions than I do believe he was known for, and perhaps the most disturbing for me....his stance on slavery.  I always valued his strong stand on ending "man owning man" and yet here, thought I know it to be a work of fiction, he almost couldn't care less.  It was a means to an end that he would have left alone if he could.

Now I know the author researches his subjects and winds fact and fiction to seamlessly create a story to draw both history fans and fiction revelers, but I'm in a quandary as to who had the wool pulled over their eyes.  If it was me?  So be it.  If it was the author....well, perhaps it wasn't wool in the first place but the mighty stroke of the pen creating a world so believable it is enough to get lost within.  My suggestion?  You be the judge.  It's well worth the 400+ page read in either case.


About the author....

Jerome Charyn is an award-winning American author. With nearly 50 published works, Charyn has earned a long-standing reputation as an inventive and prolific chronicler of real and imagined American life. Michael Chabon calls him "one of the most important writers in American literature." New York Newsday hailed Charyn as "a contemporary American Balzac,"and the Los Angeles Times described him as "absolutely unique among American writers." Since the 1964 release of Charyn's first novel, Once Upon a Droshky, he has published 30 novels, three memoirs, eight graphic novels, two books about film, short stories, plays and works of non-fiction. Two of his memoirs were named New York Times Book of the Year. Charyn has been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. He received the Rosenthal Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and has been named Commander of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture. Charyn was Distinguished Professor of Film Studies at the American University of Paris until he left teaching in 2009. In addition to his writing and teaching, Charyn is a tournament table tennis player, once ranked in the top 10 percent of players in France. Noted novelist Don DeLillo called Charyn's book on table tennis, Sizzling Chops & Devilish Spins, "The Sun Also Rises of ping-pong." Charyn lives in Paris and New York City.


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Review copy received courtesy of Nicole at Tribute Books.  (THANKS!)  For more information on this title as well as their future events, be sure to stop by their official site, friend them on Facebook, or catch them on Twitter.  This title is newly available within the past few weeks via Liveright, so be on the lookout for it on a bookstore shelf near you.  Now, this being a blog tour and all, the fun doesn't stop here!  Be sure to pay a visit to my other fellow bloggers along the virtual route for more insight, intrigue, and fun....oh and speaking of fun.....CONTEST TIME!

Until next time....good luck....and happy reading!


Tribute Books said...

Gina, it must have been quite an interesting reading experience - perusing Jerome's work of fiction and comparing it to the hours you spent with Lincoln on your high school project. Thanks for revisiting your love of such a great man. Time spent with Lincoln is definitely time well spent! :)

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson said...

Thanks for giving I Am Abraham a good read, and for encouraging your readers to do the same. A visit to your "kitchen" never disappoints. Satisfaction indeed with just a soupcon of literary magic.
- Lenore

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