By Mark Helprin
Why this book?
Lush, pulpy, and utterly beautiful, I first read this novel when I was in college. It was December in New York City and I was supposed to be studying for finals. I decided to take a break to peruse some books at the local bookstore. I still remember picking this book up and reading a quote from a New York Times book review on the back: “I find myself nervous, to a degree I don't recall in my past as a reviewer, about failing the work, inadequately displaying its brilliance.” I had to buy the book. Needless to say, I spent the next three days holed up in my dorm room, ignoring my studies, and falling completely into this ridiculously over-the-top and gorgeous adventure.
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