Far Bright Star, the forthcoming book by Robert Olmstead is another one of his masterpieces of historical fiction. Our main character Napoleon is courageous and proud, stoic and fierce, a warrior, a leader and a realist. The density of the suspense, the suffocating heat and dust leading up to the bloody standoff in the desert with Pancho Villa's gang of merry murderers is Faulkner-like in language and sensibility but almost pulpy in how quickly the reader is moved from page to page. Olmstead has a gift for objective violence. There is nothing romantic or surreal about it, it is what it is. At the end of the battle-chapter I had to put the book down for a day and digest all of the blood and lives lost on that afternoon, to reflect on the dichotomy of Napoleon experience and his men's innocence . . .only to pick it back up and be brought through one of the most brutal descriptions of torture and death I've ever encountered. Like Coal Black Horse, Far Bright Star is challenging, the story is arduous and emotional. The strength of Napoleon to survive is beyond comprehension. To say the reader "feels" this book is to be glib and forgiving. Far Bright Star left me worn-out, banged-up, and regretfully aware of all the things I am not. As far as I know, Algonquin Books publishes the finest new fiction available.
Release date for the hardcover is May 26, 2009