The 42nd Parallel: Volume One of the U.S.A. Trilogy
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The trilogy opens with THE 42nd PARALLEL, where we find a young country at the dawn of the twentieth century. Slowly, in stories artfully spliced together, the lives and fortunes of five characters unfold. Mac, Janey, Eleanor, Ward, and Charley are caught on the storm track of this parallel and blown New Yorkward. As their lives cross and double back again, the likes of Eugene Debs, Thomas Edison, and Andrew Carnegie make cameo appearances.
God, but Edison was never a man to worry about philosophical concepts; he worked all day and all night tinkering with cogwheels and bits of copperwire and chemicals in bottles, whenever he thought of a device he tried it out. He made things work. He wasn’t a mathematician. I can hire mathematicians but mathematicians can’t hire me, he said. In eighteen seventysix he moved to Menlo Park where he invented the carbon transmitter that made the telephone a commercial proposition, that made the
when Fred came back with another load on his Mack truck and set him up to a feed. They drank some beer afterwards and had a big argument about strikes. Fred said all this wobbly agitation was damn foolishness and he thought the cops would be doing right if they jailed every last one of them. Charley said that working stiffs ought to stick together for decent living conditions and the time was coming when there’d be a big revolution like the American revolution only bigger and after that there
that Doc Bingham was robbing and murdering the woman. But immediately he heard another voice cursing and shouting in broken English. He had half gotten up from the chair, when Doc Bingham dashed past him. He had on only his flannel unionsuit. In one hand were his shoes, in the other his clothes. His trousers floated after him at the end of his suspenders like the tail of a kite. “Hey, what are we going to do?” Fainy called after him, but got no answer. Instead he found himself face to face with
breath of newmown hay Through the sycamores the candlelight is gleaming On the banks of the Wabash far away OUT FOR BULLY GOOD TIME Six Thousand Workmen at Smolensk Parade With Placards Saying Death To Czar Assassin. riots and streetblockades mark opening of teamster’s strike WORLD’S GREATEST SEA BATTLE NEAR Madrid police clash with 5000 workmen carrying black flag spectators become dizzy while dancer eats orange breaking record that made man insane The Camera Eye
train started, and they lay down to sleep side by side in the sparse hay. The cold night wind streamed in through the cracks in the floor. They slept fitfully. The train started and stopped and started and shunted back and forth on sidings and the wheels rattled and rumbled in their ears and slambanged over crossings. Towards morning they fell into a warm sleep and the thin layer of hay on the boards was suddenly soft and warm. Neither of them had a watch and the day was overcast so they didn’t