Daniel Fierman
August 15, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Moon's Crossing

Current Status
In Season
Barbara Croft

We gave it a B+

Jim Moon commits suicide at the beginning of Croft’s period novel. The rest details the coincidences of his life and the demons that plagued him, as explained by a mysterious young woman in New York and his son in the heartland. Moon is one of those mystical, enigmatic characters whose journey is meant to trace the contours of American history: He was maimed in the Civil War; he thrilled to the 1893 Chicago world’s fair (so beautifully brought to life earlier this year in Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City); he immersed himself in the poetry of Walt Whitman and the politics of Eugene Debs. In the end, Crossing is a 200-page tone poem: a heap of lovely historical feints and romantic American signifiers, a tale about the death of the 19th century as hypnotizing as it is slight.

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