Genoa: A Telling of Wonders

Genoa: A Telling of Wonders

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Author: Paul Metcalf

Publisher: Coffee House Press (2015), 50th Anniversary Edition

First published in 1965, Genoa is Paul Metcalf’s literary masterpiece in which he attempts to purge the burden of his relationship to his great-grandfather Herman Melville. In his signature polyphonic style, a storm-tossed Indiana attic becomes the site of a reckoning with the life of Melville; with Columbus, and his myth; and between two brothers—one, an MD who refuses to practice; the other, an executed murderer.

"There isn’t much that one can compare [Genoa] to: in both its form and its incorporation of other works, Anne Carson comes to mind, but in broader strokes rather than more specific ones. . . Genoa is a slippery book, a literary collage that nonetheless advances with a startling momentum.”


“A singular novel, blending history and fiction, Metcalf’s book follows two brothers, one of whom narrates, as passages from the journals of Melville and Christopher Columbus are woven into the story. It works! And is best pondered seaside.”

–Vanity Fair