Not as dazzling as other collections by Helprin. The eponymous story was the best, an immigrant gets to Ellis Island and becomes so frenzied with wanting to meet the beautiful Dutch girl he sees across the room, gets marked as an anarchist, spends a few weeks in the kitchen on the island waiting for transport back to the old world, he escapes into the kosher kitchen, then into Manhattan where he gets drunk on bourbon at lunch with shark who stiffs him with the bill, heads into the frigid January night and ends up at a drawing class to stay warm, then a fire tender job for street pavers to thaw the ground, explosions, off to a rabbi’s palace, then to a bakery to attempt to get a job, and finally to become a faux tailor where he meets his wife to be.
Other stories of war, of Vermont winters, a photographer who ventures into the alpine wildness and trains himself into tip top climbing shape to assuage the loss of his wife/son only to do his climbing in his dreams at night, then pack up for Munchen when done.
From A Vermont Tale:
A fireplace was in the room; a picture of Melville (the handsomest man I have ever seen, surely not so much for what he looked like but for what he was); wooden pegs on which to hang our goose vests and Christmas hats; shelves and shelves of illustrated books.