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The year is 1844. Sixteen-year-old runaway Elisha Stone is in Detroit, a hardscrabble frontier town on the edge of the civilized world. A canny survivor with the instincts of a born naturalist, Elisha signs on to an expedition into Michigan's vast, uncharted Upper Peninsula. The party is led by two charismatic adventurers: Silas Brush, a ruthless land-grabbing ex-soldier, and George Tiffin, a quixotic professor desperate to discover proof of his unorthodox theories about the origins of man. On the eve of the expedition's departure, Elisha pens a heartfelt letter to his mother in Newell, Massachusetts. But it is Elisha's estranged father, the Reverend William Edward Stone, who opens the envelope. Grief-stricken by the recent death of his wife --a death Elisha could not have known about--Reverend Stone is jolted into action: he must find his son. What follows is a powerful narrative about the complex love between fathers and sons and an evocative portrait of an era of faith, wonder, and violence. While Elisha's journey draws him deeper into uncharted territory, Reverend Stone must navigate through a country in turmoil as he moves toward an inevitable reunion with a son who has become a stranger. A first novel of uncommon wisdom, The Expeditions is the confirmation of an extraordinary talent.
Winner of theParis ReviewDiscovery Prize for best first fiction and anthologized inThe Best American Short Stories 2002, Karl Iagnemma has been recognized as a writer of rare talent. His literary terrain is the world of science, with its charged boundary between the rational mind and the restless heart. In Iagnemma's stories, mathematicians and theoreticians, foresters and doctors, yearn to sustain bonds as steadfast as the equations and principles that anchor their lives. A frustrated academic tries to diagram his troubled relationship with his girlfriend but fails to create a formula for romance. A nineteenth-century phrenologist must reexamine the connection between knowledge and passion when a young con-woman beats him at his own game. A jaded professor dreams endlessly of his two obsessions: a beautiful former colleague and the theorem that made her famous. Inventive, wise, funny, and disquieting, Karl Iagnemma's first collection attests to his spirited imagination and his prodigious literary gifts.