Monday, November 25, 2013

Journey in the Dark by Martin Flavin

Journey in the Dark
by Martin Flavin
1944 Pulitzer Prize
4 stars - what a nice book
ALR Blue - no pets, just the odd horse pulling a carriage, a cow to milk here and there

At last, a good book from that pesky Pulitzer Prize committee. 

Journey in the Dark tells the story of Sam Braden. His childhood takes place in poverty during the late nineteenth century. Sam is the youngest of four children. His family lives squarely on the wrong side of the tracks. Trapped in a limited existence of which young Sam is blissfully unaware until the year he realizes that he didn't get a sled for Christmas because his family is poor. 

He determines that he will not perpetuate poverty. His ambition is not to be rich and powerful, but to be comfortable. To rise above the circumstances of his youth and he sets about achieving that goal in a methodical fashion. He works hard, he takes risks, and eventually becomes a successful businessman.

Sam is decidedly human, flawed. His heart is often his undoing and his life is not without frustration and sadness. 

What delighted me was the style of the story. Nothing heroic, or terribly dramatic (save for the retelling of the sinking of the Titanic by a family friend). Just a life that is plenty dramatic for the person living it. The pacing of the book is brilliant. Just as in life, sometimes years go by with nothing of note going on and other times an event, large or small, will change one's course. So too, we recall our lives out of sequence and the book takes some skips and jumps (but never confusing).

And so, the Pulitzer Prize committee has redeemed itself.

But now, on to the really good stuff. 

The library sent me one of those fancy pants Franklin Library editions. You know the ones I mean. The "own all the greatest books ever written" subscription service. This edition proudly printed in 1978 (limited edition so act now). From the condition of the book, I imagine it might have never even been read. So pristine was it, that I was loath to turn down the corner of even one page (thus no quotes). No notations, no stains on the pages, each one still crisp and new. No old book smell. 

Check it out. Leather cover, gold edged pages, and some sort of silky fabric on the front and back inserts.

Fancy illustrations and what do you know? Even a silky gold book mark.

Makes me almost wish I'd bought that subscription. These books are amazing. I do believe it is the most beautifully bound and printed book I have ever read. I kind of hate to give it up as I suspect it will return to the main circulation shelves, never to venture out again.

It was acquired by the library in 1989. I want to call them and ask if they have the complete collection. I covet that collection.



  1. I would covet that collection, too! What a fantastic find!

  2. They might sell it to you, if no one ever checks them out. Some of my favorite books are those which the library has removed from circulation and sold for a dollar or 2. That is a beautiful volume, indeed.

    I really enjoy a nice book like this, where it's just about life. They're the kind where you get to feel that some of the characters are your friends, and it is hard to relinquish them at the end. As a girl, when I read such a book, I'd read it about 487 times so I could keep those friends.