An engrossing, eccentric, inventive, poetic reimagining of the Revolutionary era in the United States.
There’s no shortage of histories of the American Revolution. Readers looking for strong books on the founding of the nation might turn to Jack Levin’s The Crossing or Nathaniel Philbrick’s Bunker Hill. Ross’ debut takes place during this same time period—the fall of 1776 to the spring of 1777. But his hymn to America’s founding is unlike those of Levin and Philbrick; as Michael Kerouac writes in the foreword, Ross’ work is “not the History of America, but the experience of its rising.” And his collection is less a retelling than a revival; resucitó means “resuscitate” or “resurrect.” The author’s hope, it seems, is to bring the past into the present and to make old stories new, and his effort results in a delightful, unexpected success. He peppers his text with anachronisms, filling his “historical” narrative with artifacts from later times. For instance, Warshington—who is and is not quite our first president—plans the attack on Trenton while alluding to Charles Dickens’ Scrooge, who would not appear in print for roughly another 6 decades. And later, we learn that Warshington digs his 1 percent Greek yogurt; simply put, our fearless leader loves Fage. With these and other nods to later history—not all of it American—Ross reels his protagonist forward through the years, hoping to dock him on modern shores. In another attempt at enlivening his tale, Ross tells most of it not in prose but in poetry, frequently falling back on a light but precise free verse. For example, he opens his little epic trying to hook us with piscatorial imagery: “Warshington was faced with a fish decision—do he, should he, / would he want cod, carp, trout, bass, perch, walleye, lunker, / or shrout?” There’s a bit of T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock here but more that seems genuinely new.
A truly original look at America’s past—and present.