Cover image for The perilous adventures of the cowboy king : a novel of Teddy Roosevelt and his times
Title:
The perilous adventures of the cowboy king : a novel of Teddy Roosevelt and his times
ISBN:
9781631493874
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W.W. Norton & Company, [2019]

©2019
Physical Description:
xv, 283 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Summary:
""Charyn, like Nabokov, is that most fiendish sort of writer--so seductive as to beg imitation, so singular as to make imitation impossible."-- Tom Bissell. Raising the literary bar to a new level, Jerome Charyn re-creates the voice of Theodore Roosevelt, the New York City police commissioner, Rough Rider, and soon- to-be twenty-sixth president through his derring-do adventures, effortlessly combining superhero dialogue with haunting pathos. Beginning with his sickly childhood and concluding with McKinley's assassination, the novel positions Roosevelt as a "perfect bull in a china shop," a fearless crime fighter and pioneering environmentalist who would grow up to be our greatest peacetime president. With an operatic cast, including "Bamie," his handicapped older sister; Eleanor, his gawky little niece; as well as the devoted Rough Riders, the novel memorably features the lovable mountain lion Josephine, who helped train Roosevelt for his "crowded hour," the charge up San Juan Hill. Lauded by Jonathan Lethem for his "polymorphous imagination and crack comic timing," Charyn has created a classic of historical fiction, confirming his place as "one of the most important writers in American literature" (Michael Chabon)"-- Provided by publisher.
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Summary

Summary

Raising the literary bar to a new level, Jerome Charyn re-creates the voice of Theodore Roosevelt, the New York City police commissioner, Rough Rider, and soon- to-be twenty-sixth president through his derring-do adventures, effortlessly combining superhero dialogue with haunting pathos. Beginning with his sickly childhood and concluding with McKinley's assassination, the novel positions Roosevelt as a "perfect bull in a china shop," a fearless crime fighter and pioneering environmentalist who would grow up to be our greatest peacetime president.

With an operatic cast, including "Bamie," his handicapped older sister; Eleanor, his gawky little niece; as well as the devoted Rough Riders, the novel memorably features the lovable mountain lion Josephine, who helped train Roosevelt for his "crowded hour," the charge up San Juan Hill. Lauded by Jonathan Lethem for his "polymorphous imagination and crack comic timing," Charyn has created a classic of historical fiction, confirming his place as "one of the most important writers in American literature" (Michael Chabon).


Author Notes

Jerome Charyn was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1937. An author who primarily writes detective stories, Charyn's novels contain a wide array of characters ranging form a gorgeous, headstrong double agent to a greedy, corrupt lawyer. Charyn chronicles the life of Isaac Sidel El Caballo, the Mayor of New York City, in over half a dozen books, including El Bronx, Little Angel Street, Marilyn the Wild, and The Good Policeman. Among his latest novels is The Secret Life of emily Dickinson. The story is told from her point of view and incorporates both historical and fictional characters to tell what she may have been like. His next work was entitled Under the Eye of God.

Widely translated, Charyn's novels have broad readership in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece and Japan, as well as the United States. Charyn lives in Paris where he teaches cinema at the American University of Paris.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Charyn, whose literary ventriloquist acts include such diverse voices as Jerzy Kosinski, Abraham Lincoln, and Emily Dickinson, here tackles the twenty-sixth president of the U.S. everything leading up to his presidency, that is. It's a picaresque novel, but then T. R. (or Teedie, as his parents called him) led a picaresque life, marked from beginning to end by restlessness and adventure. In a bluff narrative voice (and noting his subject's high-pitched speaking tone), Charyn gallops through Roosevelt's time as New York state assemblyman, North Dakota rancher and deputy sheriff, civil-service commissioner, police commissioner, lieutenant colonel of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, and governor of New York. The momentum is both the novel's strength and flaw. It's a ripping, enjoyable yarn, yet one senses a struggle to add heft and significance; passages about dreadful visions and regrets don't completely cohere into a fully realized character. Perhaps it's impossible to reinvent Roosevelt as Charyn did with Emily Dickinson in his remarkable The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson (2010) but this is a bully read, regardless.--Keir Graff Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

Theodore Roosevelt's acerbic daughter Alice suggested that her father wanted to be "the corpse at every funeral, the bride at every wedding and the baby at every christening." To this we must add the hero of every novel. Teddy's cry of "Ya-ha-hawww!" punctuates the prose of "The Perilous Adventures of the Cowboy King," exclamation being the default choice of voice for "Teedie," who narrates his life from his childhood in Manhattan until his elevation to the presidency. As a writer/ventriloquist, Charyn has written works "by" Abraham Lincoln and Emily Dickinson, productions in which the audience can occasionally see the performer's mouth move. Teddy is a fraught choice for biographical treatment these days, a trustbusting conservationist who was also a big-game hunter with a dubious view of racial equality, appearing almost buffoonish behind his pincenez and buck teeth. But Charyn's empatille first-person strategy keeps the tone sprightly positive, undercutting the braggadocio with paradoxical self-deprecation. On the celebrated charge of the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill, for example, Teddy loses his eyeglasses and can't seem to locate one of the many extra pairs that have been sewn into his uniform. He is rescued by an aide with yet another spare pair. Yet he is, undeniably, a marvel. As a little boy, he makes himself expert at imitating birdsong and keeps a seal skull and other artifacts in the malodorous "Teedie Roosevelt Museum of Natural History" in his bedroom. As an adult, he is "part cowpoke, part politician." Perhaps most telling is his infatuation with a pet cougar named Josephine. "Ya-hahawww!"


Library Journal Review

Charyn ("Isaac Sidel" series) deftly employs the literary conceits of the dime novel with this rip-roaring tale of adventure and romance. Readers take a roller-coaster ride through the amazing life of Theodore Roosevelt, from his childhood escapades on the streets of Manhattan with his father, Brave Heart, to his heroic charge up San Juan Hill with the Rough Riders, to his assumption of the presidency following the death of William McKinley in 1901. Teddy is the hero of this story, living up to the nickname of "Sinbad" affectionately bestowed on him by his wife, Edith. He is not only a one-man cyclone blowing through the political circus of his time but a champion of the environment, an adoring husband and father, and the beloved master of regimental mascot cougar Josephine. Charyn's Roosevelt is far from two-dimensional; a man whose compassion and concern for the less fortunate informed his daring deeds. VERDICT -Lovers of biographical historical fiction, especially fans of Roosevelt, will enjoy this novel peopled by real-life heroes and villains.-Barbara Clark-Greene, Westerly, RI © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.