Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise, by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Oscar Hijuelos, is a luminous work of fiction inspired by the real-life, 37-year friendship between two towering figures of the late 19th century, famed writer and humorist Mark Twain and legendary explorer Sir Henry Morton Stanley.
Hijuelos was fascinated by the Twain-Stanley connection and eventually began researching and writing a novel that used the scant historical record of their relationship as a starting point for a more detailed fictional account. It was a labor of love for Hijuelos, who worked on the project for more than 10 years, publishing other novels along the way but always returning to Twain and Stanley; indeed, he was still revising the manuscript the day before his sudden passing in 2013.
The resulting novel is a richly woven tapestry of people and events that is unique among the author's works, both in theme and structure. Hijuelos ingeniously blends correspondence, memoir, and third-person omniscience to explore the intersection of these Victorian giants in a long-vanished world.
From their early days as journalists in the American West to their admiration and support of each other's writing, their mutual hatred of slavery, their social life together in the dazzling literary circles of the period, and even a mysterious journey to Cuba to search for Stanley's adoptive father, Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise superbly channels two vibrant but very different figures. It is also a study of Twain's complex bond with Mrs. Stanley, the bohemian portrait artist Dorothy Tennant, who introduces Twain and his wife to the world of séances and mediums after the tragic death of their daughter.
A compelling and deeply felt historical fantasia that utilizes the full range of Hijuelos' gifts, Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise stands as an unforgettable coda to a brilliant writing career.
"The great Oscar Hijuelos lives on in this ambitious, fascinating, and richly detailed work that, like the author, is in a class by itself." (Gay Talese)
"What a wonder to have Oscar Hijuelos return from the celestial beyond with a tale that is thoroughly of this world and firmly anchored in history! Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise is a marvelous blend of research and the imagination, resurrecting two fascinating contemporaries - Mark Twain and Henry Morton Stanley - and lending a bygone era the shimmer of here and now." (Marie Arana, author of American Chica, Cellophane, and Bolívar: American Liberator)
"Oscar Hijuelos, who left us suddenly and far too soon, has been deeply missed by those of us who were his friends - missed both as a friend and as a writer. The friend will not be coming back, but what a miracle that he has given us this last novel - which is a fine and wonderful novel, and surely among the best books Oscar ever wrote." (Paul Auster)
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Dry, uninteresting and had no excitement in it
A must read for history and literary buffs.
- Dr. Donald Miller