Tuesday, November 01, 2011

First Words: A World Elsewhere by Wayne Johnston

Lanish Druken lived in the two-room attic of a house near the end of Dark Marsh Road that was in no way remindful of any other place he'd ever lived. A mile away, in a twelve-room house, his father lived alone.

Under the terms of what Landish called the Sartorial Charter, his father had let him keep his clothes but had otherwise disowned him. When he was too hungry and sober to sleep, he walked the edge of the marsh in the dark, smoking the last of his cigars, following the road to where it narrowed to a path that led into the woods.

He had gone to Princeton, where father-made men spent father-made fortunes. Now they were back home, learning the modern form of alchemy, the transmutation of sums of money into greater sums of money. He'd told them that this was, at best, all they would ever accomplish. "Whereas," he'd said, "I will write a book that will put in their places everyone who has ever lived. It may take me as long as a month, but I will not falter." It was five years since he'd made the boast and he'd yet to write a word that he could resist the urge to burn."

Beloved author Wayne Johnston returns with this sweeping tale of ambition, remorse and hope. A World Elsewhere is an astounding work of literature with all the hallmarks of Wayne Johnston's much-loved and acclaimed novels: outsiders yearning for acceptance, dreams that threaten to overpower their makers, and romance in the unlikeliest of places. The beating heart of this story is the touching relationship between a father and his adopted son. This sweeping
tale is set in St. John's, Princeton and North Carolina at the close of the 19th century.

Landish Druken is a formidable figure: tall with a mass of curls, broader than most doorways,
quick-witted and sharp-tongued. As a student at Princeton, he is befriended by Padgett "Van" Vanderluyden, son of the wealthiest man in America. But when Van betrays Landish, causing his expulsion from Princeton, Landish renounces him. Destitute, he returns to St. John's and nightly he starts his novel, only to burn the pages. The widow of one of his father's first mate, lost at sea, asks Landish to adopt her son. Landish and Deacon quickly fall into a relationship that,
though not supported by the comforts of home, is strong in its shared intimacy. When financial burdens threaten to overpower them, Landish sees little choice but to ask Van for assistance. Van, now ensconced at a mansion, Vanderland in North Carolina, sends them tickets. The father and son learn the truth behind Van's self-constructed life and cement their commitment to one another.

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