Bealport, Maine is one of the forgotten towns of America, a place that all too often seems to have its best days behind it. And perhaps nothing symbolizes that more than the old shoe factory—“NORUMBEGA Makers of Fine Footwear Since 1903”—that has been perpetually on the brink of failure, and is now up for sale. But maybe there’s hope? A private equity savant with a fondness for the factory’s shoes buys it—and thus sets in motion a story with profound implications for the town, and for the larger question of how we live today. The factory is a hobby for him, but it represents infinitely more for the residents of Bealport: not only their livelihoods but their self-respect, their connectedness, their sense of self-sufficiency are all bound up in it. Can this high-flying outsider understand that? How will he negotiate the complicated long-term relationships that define the town and its families?
In Bealport, Jeffrey Lewis takes us inside the town, revealing its secrets, acknowledging its problems, and honoring its ambitions. Brilliantly deploying a large cast from all walks of life, this novel reveals small town America in the early twenty-first century through the interwoven secrets and desires of its residents, and through them delivers a striking portrait of America at a moment of national uncertainty.
Bealport, called “a hugely satisfying read” by the Evening Standard and “deeply appealing” by the Times Literary Supplement, is now available in paperback.
A city that has lost one of its limbs and is receiving a miraculous gift, a little bump under the flesh, where the limb is just beginning to grow back. Thus does the American girl in Jeffrey Lewis's remarkable polyphonic novel describe Berlin and the "remnant Jews, secret GDR Jews...Soviet Jews...Jews who'd fled and come back with the victors, Jews who were lost mandarins now, Jews who'd believed in the universality of man and maybe still did" whom she finds at a Day of Atonement gathering in the eastern part of the city in a year soon after the Wall fell. Berlin Cantata deploys thirteen voices to tell a story not only of atonement, but of discovery, loss, identity, intrigue, mystery, insanity, sadomasochism and lies. At its centre is a country house owned successively by Jews, Nazis and Communists. In the country house, the American girl seeks her hidden past. In the girl, a local reporter seeks redemption. In the reporter, a false hero of the past seeks exposure. In the false hero, the American girl seeks a guide. And so it goes, a round of conspiracy and desire. Even as he describes his native city, the false hero describes the characters of Berlin Cantata: "We dined on wreckage. We were not afraid to beg. We continued our long tradition of believing either in nothing or too much."
Set in Mexico City in 1649, when the Spanish Inquisition holds sway, TheInquisitor’s Diary takes the form of the diary of Fray Alonso, the most zealous advocate of their mission, as he struggles to win promotion in the church. Outmaneuvered by his rivals, he is dispatched on a seemingly futile journey to the north, where he unexpectedly befriends a captured heretic—a Marrano, or crypto-Jew—and finds himself questioning all he believes in. Thought-provoking and philosophical, this novel brings the Inquisition to troubling life, with all its moral darkness and complexity.
“We follow Alonso’s journey as he is dispatched by the Inquisitor General to the country’s northern frontier to root out ‘heresy, apostasy, backsliding.’ . . . This somber work seeks to uncover those subterranean impulses that surge beneath Alonso’s fate.”—Literary Review
A novel written as a sharp parable of American society, addressing love, purpose, discrimination, and poverty.
In Jeffrey Lewis’s novel, the Land of Cockaigne, once an old medieval peasants’ vision of a sensual paradise on earth, is reimagined as a plot on the coast of Maine. In efforts to assuage their grief over their son’s death and to make meaning of his life, Walter Rath and Catherine Gray build what they hope will be a version of paradise for a group of young men from the Bronx. As Walter and Catherine work to reinvent this land, formerly a summer resort, the surrounding town of Sneeds Harbor proves resistant. The residents’ well-meaning doubts lead to well-hidden threats, and the Raths’ marriage unravels as Walter loses faith in democracy. Meanwhile, the Bronx boys, who have only ever known the city, try to navigate this new land that is completely alien to them. Written as a parable of contemporary American society, Land of Cockaigne is by turns furious, funny, subversive, tragic, and horrifying. Faced with the question of what to do amid disastrous times, Walter Rath offers a clue: Love is an action, not a feeling. Once you go down this path of faith, there is much to be done.
Acclaimed writer Jeffrey Lewis is known for his deft portrayals of relatable figures from all walks of life. In The Meritocracy Quartet, his four interlinking novels—Meritocracy: A Love Story, The Conference of the Birds, Theme Song for an Old Show, and Adam the King—have been brought together for the first time into a single volume. Set against the backdrop of the changing American landscape over four decades, The Meritocracy Quartet is a testament to the country’s evolving personality.
The quartet follows Louie, a Yale graduate from a modest background with a gift for forging connections in high and low places. Beginning in the 1960s, as he documents a going-away party for a fellow Yalie on his way to Vietnam, and continuing through his spiritual encounters with a 1970s group of city misfits, his turn to television writing in the 1980s, and a tragic love story between two of his close friends in the 1990s, Louie chronicles not only his own personal struggles—his silent love for his best friend’s girl, his delicate relationship with an at-times absent father—but also the attitudes, events, and people that marked his generation. From the Vietnam War to George W. Bush, from television trends to the divide between the haves and have-nots, The Meritocracy Quartet is a moving witness to everything America had to offer in the latter portion of the twentieth century.