Book Nook: Nostalgia, by Dennis McFarland

Dec 5, 2013

The war between the states; our Civil War was raging 150 years ago. Many books have been published over the past 3 years to mark the anniversary of that Great Unpleasantness. Most of those books have been non-fiction.

Dennis McFarland just published what might be the great Civil War novel of our era. "Nostalgia" is the story of a soldier named Summerfield Hayes.  During the horrific Battle of the Wilderness in 1864 Hayes suffers greatly and is afflicted by what was known at the time as "nostalgia." That term referred to what we now describe as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Somehow Hayes makes it to a hospital. He cannot speak. He cannot even write down his name. His identity is unknown. Some people at the hospital take him for a slacker, a coward, perhaps even a deserter. The poet Walt Whitman turns up at the hospital. Whitman was offering succor to the wounded. He becomes very fond of Hayes.

This is quite a story, one of the best novels of 2013.