Freaks and Geeks

the transformation of bartholomew fortuno!

New Yorkers are no strangers to human spectacle (see: Gaga at Citi Field).

Which makes The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno, set on the LES in 1865, all the more relatable.

Ellen Bryson’s debut novel weaves one of Old New York’s great tales — the lively antics of P.T. Barnum’s American Museum — with questions about social hierarchy, acceptance, and human longing.

Even among Barnum’s circus freaks and curiosities there are sociological levels: heretofore known as Gaffs, Exotics, and Prodigies. Our hero, Bartholomew Fortuno, The World’s Thinnest Man, revels in his “gift” of gauntness and believes his willpower separates him from the rest of the world.

He proselytizes his philosophy of restraint in tableau with a rotating cast: zaftig lady, midget, strong man, and gypsy. But a new, secret act (complete with mysteriously seductive beard) piques Fortuno’s curiosity and appetite. Naturally, big top drama ensues.

Bryson, a proverbial ringmaster, delves deep into context, roping the assassination of Lincoln, scents of Chinatown, and heart-wrenching human misconceptions into poetic prose that captures the attention of ladies and gentleman, boys and girls of all ages.

Available online at amazon.com, $17.

For more great books, check out our awesome summer reading list.

Photo: Courtesy of Amazon

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