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Book Cover for: Feast Day of the Cannibals, Norman Lock

Feast Day of the Cannibals

Norman Lock

A bankrupt merchant encounters Herman Melville and is pursued through the depths of Gilded Age Manhattan by a brutal antagonist

In the sixth stand-alone book in The American Novels series, Shelby Ross, a merchant ruined by the depression of 1873-79, is hired as a New York City Custom House appraiser under inspector Herman Melville, the embittered, forgotten author of Moby-Dick. On the docks, Ross befriends a genial young man and makes an enemy of a despicable one, who attempts to destroy them by insinuating that Ross and the young man share an unnatural affection. Ross narrates his story to his childhood friend Washington Roebling, chief engineer of the soon-to-be-completed Brooklyn Bridge. As he is harried toward a fate reminiscent of Ahab's, he encounters Ulysses S. Grant, dying in a brownstone on the Upper East Side; Samuel Clemens, who will publish Grant's Memoirs; and Thomas Edison, at the dawn of the electrification of the city.

Feast Day of the Cannibals charts the harrowing journey of a tormented heart during America's transformative age.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Bellevue Literary Press
  • Publish Date: Jul 16th, 2019
  • Pages: 240
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 7.40in - 5.00in - 0.70in - 0.55lb
  • EAN: 9781942658467
  • Categories: BiographicalLiteraryLGBTQ+ - Gay

About the Author

Norman Lock is the award-winning author of novels, short fiction, and poetry, as well as stage and radio plays. He has won The Dactyl Foundation Literary Fiction Award, The Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction, and has been longlisted twice for the Simpson/Joyce Carol Oates Prize. He has also received writing fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He lives in Aberdeen, New Jersey, where he is at work on the next books of The American Novels series.

Praise for this book

Praise for Feast Day of the Cannibals

Joyce Carol Oates Prize Longlist
Big Other Book Award Finalist
Advocate "Best LGBTQ Novels of the Year" selection
Foreword Reviews "Book of the Day" selection

"Feast Day of the Cannibals is the first of [Lock's American Novels] to explore the lives of 19th-century men who felt a sexual attraction to each other. . . . [His] recreation of a past time and place is impressive, but his signal achievement in this novel is the voice of its narrator, Shelby Ross. . . . Lock does not merely imitate 19th-century prose; he makes it his own, with verbal flourishes worthy of Melville." --Gay & Lesbian Review

"This spectacular work will delight and awe readers with Lock's magisterial wordsmithing." --Library Journal (starred review)

"Transfixing. . . . This historically authentic novel raises potent questions about sexuality during an unsettling era in American history past and is another impressive entry in Lock's dissection of America's past." --Publishers Weekly

"Lock's latest entry in his superb American Novels series again features his remarkable eye for historical detail and fine-tuned felicity with the language of the period. . . . [Feast Day of the Cannibals] will delight fans of classic American literature." --Booklist

"Engrossing and elegant, Feast Day of the Cannibals captures America's kaleidoscopic spirit during a tumultuous, rapacious era." --Foreword Reviews

"While Moby-Dick is often referenced by the characters, it's Billy Budd, a later work of Melville's, that's alluded to thematically, as Lock addresses questions of desire and repression, both personal and societal. . . . [Feast Day of the Cannibals] memorably provides a window into old New York and its narrator's conflicted mind." --Kirkus Reviews

"A slow-burning tale of repression and sublimation, a work that tells a tale of obsession and the violence that ensues." --Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"As in his previous novels, Lock both presents an engrossing storyline and a vivid sense of life in late 19th-century Manhattan." --Our Man in Boston

Select Praise for Norman Lock's The American Novels Series

"Norman Lock has created a memorable portrait gallery of American subjects, in a succession of audaciously imagined, wonderfully original, and beautifully written novels unlike anything in our literature." --Joyce Carol Oates

"Shimmers with glorious language, fluid rhythms, and complex insights." --NPR

"Our national history and literature are Norman Lock's playground in his dazzling series, The American Novels. . . . [His] supple, elegantly plain-spoken prose captures the generosity of the American spirit in addition to its moral failures, and his passionate engagement with our literary heritage evinces pride in its unique character." --Washington Post

"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 . . . to create something entirely new--an American fable of ideas." --Shelf Awareness

"[A] consistently excellent series. . . . Lock has an impressive ear for the musicality of language, and his characteristic lush prose brings vitality and poetic authenticity to the dialogue." --Booklist

On The Boy in His Winter

"[Lock] is one of the most interesting writers out there. This time, he re-imagines Huck Finn's journeys, transporting the iconic character deep into America's past--and future." --Reader's Digest

On American Meteor

"[Walt Whitman] hovers over [American Meteor], just as Mark Twain's spirit pervaded The Boy in His Winter. . . . Like all Mr. Lock's books, this is an ambitious work, where ideas crowd together on the page like desperate men on a battlefield." --Wall Street Journal

On The Port-Wine Stain

"Lock's novel engages not merely with [Edgar Allan Poe and Thomas Dent Mütter] but with decadent fin de siècle art and modernist literature that raised philosophical and moral questions about the metaphysical relations among art, science and human consciousness. The reader is just as spellbound by Lock's story as [his novel's narrator] is by Poe's. . . . Echoes of Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray and Freud's theory of the uncanny abound in this mesmerizingly twisted, richly layered homage to a pioneer of American Gothic fiction." --New York Times Book Review

On A Fugitive in Walden Woods

"A Fugitive in Walden Woods manages that special magic of making Thoreau's time in Walden Woods seem fresh and surprising and necessary right now. . . . This is a patient and perceptive novel, a pleasure to read even as it grapples with issues that affect the United States to this day." --Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom and The Changeling

On The Wreckage of Eden

"The lively passages of Emily [Dickinson's]'s letters are so evocative of her poetry that it becomes easy to see why Robert finds her so captivating. The book also expands and deepens themes of moral hypocrisy around racism and slavery. . . . Lyrically written but unafraid of the ugliness of the time, Lock's thought-provoking series continues to impress." --Publishers Weekly

On American Follies

"Ragtime in a fever dream. . . . When you mix 19th-century racists, feminists, misogynists, freaks, and a flim-flam man, the spectacle that results might bear resemblance to the contemporary United States." --Library Journal (starred review)

On Tooth of the Covenant

"Splendid. . . . Lock masters the interplay between nineteenth-century [Nathaniel] Hawthorne and his fictional surrogate, Isaac, as he travels through Puritan New England. The historical details are immersive and meticulous." --Foreword Reviews (starred review)

On Voices in the Dead House

"Gripping. . . . The legacy of John Brown looms over both Alcott and Whitman [in] a haunting novel that offers candid portraits of literary legends." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

On The Ice Harp

"In The Ice Harp, Norman Lock deftly takes us into the polyphonic swirl of Emerson's mind at the end of his life, inviting us to meet the man anew even as the philosopher fights to stop forgetting himself. Who will I be when the words are gone, the great thinker wonders, and how will I know what is right? I gladly asked myself these same impossible questions on every page of this remarkably empathetic and deeply moral novel." --Matt Bell, author of Appleseed and Refuse to Be Done