From bestselling author Dennis McFarland comes NOSTALGIA an extraordinary Civil War novel: the journey of a nineteen-year-old private abandoned by his comrades in the Wilderness, struggling to regain his voice, his identity, and his place in a world utterly changed by what he has experienced on the battlefield. A great weekend read for you history buffs.
In the winter of 1864, young Summerfield Hayes, a pitcher for the famous Eckford Club, enlists in the Union army, leaving his sister, a schoolteacher, devastated and alone in their Brooklyn home. The siblings, who have recently lost both their parents, are unusually attached, and Summerfield fears his untoward secret feelings for his sister. This rich backstory is intercut with stunning scenes of Hayes’s soul-altering hours on the march and at the front—the slaughter of barely grown young men who, only days before, whooped it up with him in a regimental ball game; his temporary deafness and disorientation after a shell blast; his fevered attempt to find safe haven after he has been deserted by his own comrades—and, later, in the Washington military hospital where he eventually finds himself, now mute and unable even to write his name. In this twilit realm, among the people he encounters—a compassionate drug-addicted amputee, the ward matron who only appears to be his enemy, the captain who is convinced that Hayes is faking his illness—is a gray-bearded eccentric who visits the ward daily and becomes his strongest advocate: Walt Whitman. This timeless story, whose outcome hinges on the fellowship that is forged in crisis, reminds us how deep are the wounds of war, not all of which are visible.
Praise for Nostalgia
“Walt Whitman, who haunts the pages of this sensitive, ingenious, beautifully written novel, famously said that the real Civil War would ‘never get into the books.’ Nostalgia deftly explores an aspect of war little understood in Whitman’s time or in our own-the invisible wounds combat inflicts upon many of those who somehow manage to survive it.” –Geoffrey C. Ward, coauthor of The Civil War and author of A Disposition to Be Rich
“Emotionally harrowing…McFarland manages to find something new to say about a war that could have had everything said about it already…A moving account of one soldier’s journey to hell and back, and his struggle to make his own individual peace with the world afterward.”—Publishers Weekly
“McFarland is a Divine Watchmaker of a novelist.”—Newsweek
“A writer of extraordinary sympathy and compassion that are remarkably free from sentimentality.”—Boston Sunday Globe
“McFarland is heir to the great Southern literary tradition, and his observations, however somber in import or lyrical in delivery, are always laced with a splendid appreciation of life’s absurdities.”—The Wall Street Journal
“McFarland has to be counted one of the brightest hopes for the literate American novel. I don’t think there’s a writer alive who wouldn’t like to have written some of his sentences…You want to compare him to Chopin or Mendelssohn more than to any particular writer.”—Hartford Courant