Frederick Busch   The Night Inspector  
Frederick Busch    
Frederick Busch: an interview

The Night Inspector: an excerpt

  The beauty of Frederick Busch's writing is something familiar to all who know his work. We know the mastery of his prose, the absolutely heartbreaking language he employs when creating full-bodied, vivid characters. His latest book, The Night Inspector, proves to be not only his most ambitious work to date, but the book that furthers his standing as one of the finest practitioners of the craft working today.

Set in New York City in the late 19th century, The Night Inspector is a wrenching study of the travesties and effects of war on a country and a man's soul. After serving in the Civil War as a sniper, William Bartholomew returns to New York in an attempt to conduct a legitimate life for himself as a financial speculator. Wounded during the war, Bartholomew now wears a mask to cover his scarred face. Despite the solitude of his past life, Bartholomew finds himself drawn to the underbelly of the city and now lives among all manner of slumdwellers, thieves and murderers. He becomes involved with Jessie, a Creole prostitute, another castoff from the war. She enjoins him to help her in the smuggling of black children out of the war-torn South, an endeavor that leads to an encounter and unlikely friendship with Herman Melville. Melville, once the country's most celebrated writer, is living out his days as a customs inspector, his literary success vanquished and his family fragmented and in turmoil. Interspersed with his days in New York are scenes of Bartholomew's time spent as a marksman during the war, scenes of absolute riveting detail and gripping suspense.

Frederick Busch has created an unforgettable character in William Bartholomew and an unforgettable book with The Night Inspector. It is a book of magnificent scope, a classic that captures the timeless reality of turn-of-the-century New York, as well as the harrowing truths about the ravaging effects of the Civil War. Ultimately, The Night Inspector is a book of hope and promise, of a country's ability to be reborn, and of the means by which one man recaptures his vigor and taste for life.

This issue of Bold Type features an interview with the author and an excerpt from The Night Inspector.
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  Photo of Frederick Busch copyright © John Hubbard

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