In this shimmering work of fiction, Nicholas Christopher follows the remarkable life of Franklin Flyer–a restless young inventor named after the train on which he was born–through the tumultuous years of the Great Depression, into the Second World War.
Raised by his suffragette aunt, at various times a vagabond and tycoon, Franklin travels across the U.S.A and around the globe, seeking adventure and enlightenment, charting his fate by pursuing the unexpected.
He encounters a glittering cast of characters: among them Rita Hayworth, Josephine Baker, OSS founder “Wild Bill” Donovan, and a host of political zealots, opportunists, and dreamers thrown together in a world on the brink of collapse.
With each new invention–devices that help to revolutionize everything from early television to the technology with which the Allies respond to the Axis powers–Franklin makes his mark. Gaining fame and fortune, he also suffers terrible heartbreak, and through numerous transformations discovers that a man’s own life is truly his most difficult, and rewarding, invention.
A brisk, vivid blend of history and imagination, Franklin Flyer brings to life an American hero as unforgettable as his times.
About the Author
NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER is the author of seven volumes of poetry, five novels, and a cultural history of film noir. He is a regular contributor to the New Yorker, Esquire, the Nation, the New Republic, the Paris Review, and other notable magazines. A professor in the School of the Arts at Columbia University, he lives in New York City.
“The novel is stacked with outrageous, larger-than-life characters…None of them, however, is as colorful as Franklin himself.”—Seattle Times
“A special novel…Christopher’s blending of fact and fiction is admirably seamless…A book that the reader will wish had a few—no, make that quite a few—more pages.” —Denver Post
“If Graham Greene collaborated with the creator of Dick Tracy, the result might read like this quirky, whirlwind tale of ordinary men contending with a worldwide Nazi conspiracy.” —Publishers Weekly
“A tale of journey, loss and rebirth…a story full of charm.” —New York Times Book Review
“The novel’s…action [is] freighted with fatality and symbolism…[Franklin Flyer] is an exemplary young American of his time: bright, talented, handy with his fists, an inventor and a patriot.” —L.A. Times
“Using crisp, vivid and charged language, Christopher creates a series of colorful tableaux through which the eponymous hero glides like a double agent in a thriller.” —BOMB Magazine
“A pleasure to read…Positively glow[s] with descriptive grace…A lovely investigation of ‘the only mystery worth pursuing,’ the metamorphoses of the human spirit, observed at both stillness and breakneck speed.” —Washington Post Book World
“Here is a happy surprise, a book that is highly entertaining, ingenious and a delight for the imagination…the writer constructs an old-fashioned romance in an entirely pleasing way. Nicholas Christopher leads us into a world that never really existed but for which we still yearn.” —Newark Star-Ledger, New Jersey
“A lovely blend of fantasy and history.” —Booklist
“At 317 pages of swift-moving prose, [Franklin Flyer is] a work of historical/period fiction, a spy novel, comic book, comical jaunt, love story, spiritual quest and an inventor’s tale.”—Advocate & Greenwich Time, Connecticut