The Passages of H.M.
A Novel of Herman Melville
By Jay Parini
(Anchor Books, Paperback, 9780307386199, 454pp.)
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
List Price: $16.95*
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With the same masterly touch that made The Last Station so powerful, Jay Parini penetrates the mind and soul of another literary titan.
Through the eyes of his long-suffering wife, Lizzie, we are introduced to an aging, angry, and drunken Herman Melville. He is decades past his flourishing career as a writer of bestselling tales of seagoing adventures. His epic but ungainly Moby-Dick was meant to make him immortal, but critics scoffed and readers fled. He spends his days trudging the docks of New York as a customs inspector and contemplating his malign literary fate. But within him is stirring, perhaps, one great work yet. . . . In a narrative that shifts seamlessly between Lizzie’s personal account and evocative snapshots of Melville’s crowded life, Parini manages to humanize a giant of letters, while illuminating the source of his matchless creativity.