Late City

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Pub Date 27 Jan 2022 | Archive Date 27 Jan 2022
Oldcastle Books, No Exit Press

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Description

A 115-year-old man lays on his deathbed as the 2016 US election results arrive, and revisits his life in this moving story of love, fatherhood, and the American century from Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler

A visionary and poignant novel centered around former newspaperman Sam Cunningham as he prepares to die, Late City covers much of the early twentieth century, unfurling as a conversation between the dying man and a surprising God. As the two review Sam's life, from his childhood in the American South and his time in the French trenches during World War I to his fledgling newspaper career in Chicago in the Roaring Twenties and the decades that follow, snippets of history are brought sharply into focus.

Sam grows up in Louisiana, with a harsh father, who he comes to resent both for his physical abuse and for what Sam eventually perceives as his flawed morality. Eager to escape and prove himself, Sam enlists in the army as a sniper while still underage. The hardness his father instilled in him helps him make it out of World War I alive, but, as he recounts these tales on his deathbed, we come to realize that it also prevents him from contending with the emotional wounds of war. Back in the US, Sam moves to Chicago to begin a career as a newspaperman that will bring him close to all the major historical turns of the twentieth century. There he meets his wife and has a son, whose fate counters Sam's at almost every turn.

As he contemplates his relationships - with his parents, his brothers in arms, his wife, his editor, and most importantly, his son - Sam is amazed at what he still has left to learn about himself after all these years.

A 115-year-old man lays on his deathbed as the 2016 US election results arrive, and revisits his life in this moving story of love, fatherhood, and the American century from Pulitzer Prize winner...


Advance Praise

Praise for Robert Olen Butler


'A poignant meditation on thecircle of life, the wonder we all feel as it slips away' - Minneapolis Star Tribune on Late City


'Written in a hard-boiled, staccato style, Paris in the Dark is an intelligent, stylish thriller, and so atmospheric that the pages reek of Gitanes and coffee' - Times


'A morally complex and beautifully written thriller with a delicately portrayed love story at its heart. A cut above' - Mail on Sunday on Paris in the Dark


'Butler's prose is fluid, and his handling of his many time-shifts as lucid as it is urgent. His descriptive gifts don't extend just to his characters' traits or their Florida and New Orleans settings, but to the history he's addressing' - New York Times Book Review on Perfume River


'Perfume River is a highly accomplished novel. Butler's prose is polished and supple, his elegant voice capable of shifting from academia to the "whoosh... and blare" of combat, then to the lush immediacy of Vietnam' - Spectator


'Butler writes essentially, and in a bewitching translation of voice and sympathy, what it means to lose a country, to remember it, and to have the memory begin to grow old. He writes as if it were his loss, too' - Los Angeles Times Book Review on A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Praise for Robert Olen Butler


'A poignant meditation on thecircle of life, the wonder we all feel as it slips away' - Minneapolis Star Tribune on Late City


'Written in a hard-boiled, staccato style...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9780857304896
PRICE £9.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

Sam Cunningham is dying and as he lies on his deathbed in a Chicago nursing home, in the long dark night of the soul, he reflects and reminisces and reviews his long life – all 115 years of it – and discusses all that he has experienced with a rather unusual God, who has come to speed him on his way. A chatty God is a risky narrative conceit, but I found it worked well and for me it paid off, giving Sam an interlocutor to help him reassess, and I found their exchanges amusing. But this isn’t just a saccharine account of an old man at the end of his life, but as we look back with Sam we too relive the events of the 20th century and we too reassess some of those events. I found the book engaging and entertaining, but with a serious and thoughtful aspect to it as well, and overall a really great read.

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