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Starred Review. This historical novel may surprise readers who know Kurt Andersen as the cofounder of Spy magazine and the author of the wise and acerbic Turn of the Century (1999). It's set in the mid–19th century, for one thing, and not—at least not ostensibly—about media or celebrity. Benjamin Knowles is a young Englishman infatuated with all things American, including and especially the part-time actress/part-time prostitute Polly Lucking, whom he meets on his first passage to New York. Just as Knowles and Polly are about to go public with their love, Knowles does that boy-thing—i.e., says something stupid—and she flees New York. It's worth getting through the slowish beginning to arrive at the delightful, intelligent last two-thirds of this long novel when Knowles teams up with Polly's damaged brother, Duff, and family friend, Timothy Scaggs, a journalist of sorts, in a trek west in search of the freethinking Ms. Lucking, with a murderer just behind them (it's a subplot). Andersen's second novel is more than just a love story or a history lesson (though there are details included that make it clear how much research Andersen did); it's a true novel of ideas. The group visits a 19th-century health farm/cult, for example. The occasional historical figure—e.g., Charles Darwin—makes an appearance as well. There are shades of T.C. Boyle's The Road to Wellville, as well as aspirations toward E.L. Doctorow. But in the end, this second novel belongs to Andersen, a tale of bright, rambunctious, aspiring young people. Like them, the book is rowdy, knowing—and wholly American. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Kurt Andersen is best known for his previous novel (the irreverent, postmillennial Turn of the Century), his role as cofounder and editor of the now-defunct Spy magazine, and as host of public radio's Studio 360. Heyday, Andersen's second novel, recalls the work of Gore Vidal, T. C. Boyle, Thomas Mallon, and even Charles Dickens. Critics agree that while the author's vision is grand and his execution ambitious, Knowles's adventures too often get bogged down in the minutiae of the period at the expense of storytelling (Janet Maslin deems the effect "compulsive pedantry"). Fans of books that set forth Big Ideas (Heyday very much differs from Turn of the Century) will revel along with Andersen, who clearly enjoys what he's doing here as he celebrates the tumultuous energy and the careless optimism of an America on the move.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Good story with a touch of history that may do the brain some good. Don't worry the history blends with the story so it's fun.Published 12 days ago by DAVID DAY
My problem with Andersen's book began as early as page 24 when he speaks of “India rubber overshoes.” A flag goes up. Read morePublished 9 months ago by B.R. STANARD
I really wanted to like this book, but I found his writing plodding and uninspired, and he made me not care at all about the characters. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Priscilla Zlotnick
Mixture of fact and fiction moves this book forward. Experience all of the important events of the late 1840's in one book: Revolutions, Gold Rush, Mexican War, Great Literature... Read morePublished on January 8, 2013 by Jon Michael Simpson
Wow! I can't actually believe I finished reading this tome. Thankfully I was able to get the CDs from the library at the same time as I got the book. 22 CDs! Read morePublished on October 26, 2012 by darswords
Heyday is the best historical novel I have ever read. The book begins in Europe during the 1848 revolutions. Read morePublished on July 31, 2012 by JimL
Kurt Andersen is a great writer, a skilled writer, a clever writer. His previous novel, Turn of the Century, was the perfect portrait of America during the late millennium (a/k/a,... Read morePublished on November 5, 2010 by Keith Otis Edwards
Any reader picking up a work of historical fiction with over 600 pages of narrative should expect close attention to detail. Kurt Andersen delivers details by the yard in Heyday. Read morePublished on April 25, 2010 by Stephen T. Hopkins
1848: "What kind of fool celebrates the vanquishing of Mexicans at ten and the freedom of the French at midnight?" (148) "An American fool. Read morePublished on January 19, 2010 by John L Murphy