The Moments Lost A Midwest Pilgrim's Progress

Bruce Olds




Trade Paperback

480 Pages



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Abandoning the Wisconsin dairy farm of his bookish, sexually precocious youth, Franklyn Shivs arrives in turn-of-the-century Chicago, where his position as a newspaper reporter, a job to which he is singularly ill suited, obliges his reluctant participation in a parade of "historic" events, even as his bohemian private life becomes ensnarled in a tangle of unorthodox human relationships. Among them is one with an uncommonly beautiful but unavailable woman whose inability to return his love compels his reexamination of the posture of indifference and disengagement he finds morally so alluring.

Assigned to cover the bloody Wobbly-led 1913 copper mine strike in northern Michigan, Franklyn is drawn into an illicit and passionate affair with one of the strike's most militant leaders. When she becomes pregnant with their child, he is faced with a decision—to betray himself or to endure the loss of the woman he loves, the consequences of which would not only affect the strike's outcome but also test the mettle of his humanity.


Praise for The Moments Lost

"Fans of biography as well as novels will find intriguing and different The Moments Lost: A Midwest Pilgrim's Progress, a novel which charts the progress of one Franklyn Shives, who arrives in turn-of-the-century Chicago to become a newspaper reporter even as his bohemian lifestyle is becoming entangled in relationship issues. His assignment to cover the Wobblie-led 1913 copper mine strike in Michigan will further change his life and lead to betrayal and love lost in this hard-hitting novel of one man's changes and revelations, perfect for public libraries strong in literary novels."—The Midwest Book Review

"Having written on John Brown and Doc Holliday, Olds now focuses on the labor struggles of the early twentieth century. Beginning in Chicago, Franklyn Shivs lands a job as a beat reporter, drinks heavily with various bohemian types, and disastrously chases the affections of Margaret Anderson, famous for serializing Joyce's Ulysses in her own literary magazine. Writing for the city's socialist weekly, Shivs ventures to the Upper Peninsula to cover the copper miner's strike of 1913, starring such Wobblie heavyweights as Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood. While there, he struggles to maintain his professional veil of detachment in the violently polarizing atmosphere of two immovable forces grinding bitterly away at one another. Until he falls for a striking unionatrix, that is. Olds writes like a lunatic thesaurus come to life, in a deliberately dense, word-riffing prose that nearly masks this impressive, overtly intellectual, and detailed portrait of industrial America modernizing amid an explosive onslaught of conflicting ideologies."—Booklist

"Olds's elephantine third novel opens as a bildungsroman based loosely on the real life of one Frank Shavs. Olds calls him Franklyn Shivs, here a more-or-less self-educated Wisconsin farm boy who has his Chicago journalistic breakout covering the Iroquois Theater fire of 1900. Franklyn then enters bohemian society, meets intellectual Floyd Dell and IWW leader Big Bill Haywood and becomes the spurned lover of the brilliant, outrageous Margaret Anderson. Fighting the demons of alcohol and dissipation by the novel's midpoint, Franklyn is dispatched to Michigan's Upper Peninsula to cover the Wobbly-led copper mine strike of 1913. Olds paints it in exquisite, violent detail."—Publishers Weekly

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  • Bruce Olds

  • Bruce Olds is the author of two novels: Bucking the Tiger (adapted for the stage as The Confessions of Doc Holliday) and Raising Holy Hell, a Pulitzer Prize finalist that was also named an IMPAC Dublin Literary Award nominee and winner of the QPB New Voices Award for Fiction. His nonfiction work has appeared in Granta and American Heritage, among other publications, and has been anthologized by Modern Library and MIT Press. He lives in Chicago.