Benjamin Lorn, sensitive son of an embittered Civil War veteran, comes of age in the tiny Iowa town of Perpetua where, in a single summer, he mourns the recent loss of his mother, falls in love, and uncovers a shameful family secret that sends him fleeing west. Tormented with this new knowledge, Benjamin seeks transcendence through the telegraph wires that have enchanted him since boyhood. Meanwhile the weight of a dark duty grows more and more pressing.
Thus begins Perpetua's Kin, M. Allen Cunningham's enthralling multi-generational mystery, reworking of Hamlet, and profoundly contemporary exploration of the American experience as one family embodies it. Spanning much of North America over more than a century, from the 1820s Midwest through the American south of the Civil War, to World War II San Francisco, Cunningham's novel is a powerful portrait of this nation's violent heritage, our vulnerability to the vastness of our own geography, our chronic restlessness and desire for regeneration through technology, and the impossibility of escaping the history that forms us and, always, demands a reckoning.
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