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Emily & Herman – “A Literary Romance”

November 12, 2014

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Emily & Herman by John Healey,  Arcade Publishing. $17. 54

BUY DIRECTLY FROM AMAZON. CLICK: Emily & Herman: A Literary Romance

Let me begin in left field. I am recently doing a book on Houdini where he has a talk with a modern magician, Teller. In Houdini’s day audiences would attribute magic to a supernatural cause. Teller supports a magic that gives the audience the appearance of  free will (but the illusion depends on its thinking as the magician wants it to). Spiritual or no? Free Will or not?

I think audiences change and the Melville Moby Dick we once read or Emily Dickinson poems recited at weddings and funerals were accepted for reasons different from what readers want today. This book has the illusion of great literary figures while providing modern readers what they want (and it is not for them to go back to the originals any more than they would go back to high school or college freshman lit).

That said, this seems authentic. There is back story I didn’t know, a touch of the poet, Dickinson in a description of a spider making a web and the feel of good and evil of Moby Dick incorporated into the extra marital affair between the two writers. Hawthorne and Whitman are mostly caricatures advancing the plot. At times the pace is slow (the first chapters) but I have to say I got caught up in the story and looked at the couple on the cover at least a dozen times during reading.

For those of you who want an Emily and Herman love story for our time, this is it. For those who want the originals, lots of luck.

4 out of 5

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