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The Wisest Man in America
W.D. Wetherell

Hardscrabble Books–Fiction of New England

1995 • 236 pp. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2"
Fiction & Literature

$16.95 Paperback, 978-0-87451-761-3

“Wetherell finds in the remote mountains and isolated farmhouses of northern New Hampshire something that can develop strength and understanding, that allows time and distance enough from the events and... [continued in Reviews below]”—Boston Book Review

Loss, redemption, and the New Hampshire primary tie two men as they search for what's lasting in a world of change.

It's 1996 and Ferris, a native New Englander as flinty and proud as the mountains around him, is once again about to predict the winners of the New Hampshire primary. He's been right in every election since 1952, when fate and a nose for news first led Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Max Thomas to his door. It wasn't long before Ferris's uncanny accuracy began drawing the great and the not-so-great to the Notch to sound out -- and perhaps influence -- the crusty bellwether of political success or failure. This election, however, is different, as both Ferris and Max face the hardest test of their wisdom: confronting the truth about themselves, their lives and loves, and a society that has declined painfully during their half century of friendship.

W. D. Wetherell, author of the critically acclaimed Chekhov's Sister, creates a bittersweet retrospective that is at once profoundly meditative on the intricacies of human relationships and full of sharp insight into the diminishment of the American national character. Ferris senses "a sickness" afflicting America's youth. Max, at the end of a career of writing about wars, the empty wisdom of leaders, and the decay of nations, laments of his own country, "The world's been in a race toward total confusion, and we've gotten there first."

Yet both men come to reject those bleak pronouncements, as each mines meaning from his past and avoids "he worst of all fates: a life that for good or evil had left no impression at all." Wetherell's elegiac story of loss and redemption is a study in the universal struggle to identify what values are lasting amidst the sometimes deafening tumult of change.

Reviews / Endorsements

“Wetherell finds in the remote mountains and isolated farmhouses of northern New Hampshire something that can develop strength and understanding, that allows time and distance enough from the events and business of the world to enable a man to learn wisdom . . . The novel is constructed skillfully . . . full of eloquence, grudging honesty, and as much forgiveness as that hardscrabble country allows.” —Boston Book Review

“In this affecting novel, the connection between an ornery, struggling man and his country comes vividly to life . . . An understated, resonantly thoughtful novel.”—Publishers Weekly

“Wetherell is a natural storyteller and a gifted observer.”—Booklist

“Whether the spotlight is on Max down on the Cape or Ferris up in New Hampshire, Wetherell is on familiar turf. He enriches his latest work with lyrical precision as he describes seascapes of one and landscapes of the other, a mark of a truly visual writer. Few authors are more successful at carrying the reader into the inner thoughts and emotions of their multi-faceted characters.”—New Hampshire Sunday News

Author Photo

W. D. Wetherell's other books include Wherever That Great Heart May Be (1996), The Smithsonian Guide to the Natural Places of Northern New England (1994), Upland Stream (1991), Hyannis Boat and Other Stories (1989), and The Man Who Loved Levittown (1985). He has won two NEA Fellowships, the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, the National Magazine Award, and other honors. His novel Chekhov's Sister was selected as one of the Notable Books of 1990 by the New York Times.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 11:54:07 -0500