Excerpt from All Other Nights by Dara Horn, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

All Other Nights

A Novel

by Dara Horn

All Other Nights by Dara Horn X
All Other Nights by Dara Horn
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2009, 384 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2010, 384 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Sacha Dollacker
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt




*

To Jacob’s astonishment, armylife suited him. He was surprised by how simple it was to reinvent himself, by how relieved he was when everyone assumed he was just another farmer’s or cobbler’s or dockworker’s son whose reason for enlisting was nothing more than a deep love of country combined with a deep need of cash. That summer and autumn he suffered through several battles, as shocked and silenced by them as everyone else. But one night when spring returned, he was called to the officers’ headquarters on an evening when a rumor had spread that the general was visiting the camp. He was certain that he was going to receive a promotion. And when he entered the room on that cold evening and saw the major, the colonel, and the general seated at a table before him, each with a pipe in his mouth, he felt even more certain. He could hardly stifle a smile as he waited for the major to address him, while the general blew a cloud of smoke into the air. But it was the general who spoke.

“Sergeant Mendoza has reported to us that you have relations in New Orleans,” he said, resting his pipe in a wooden holder on the table. “Specifically, a Mr. Harris Hyams. Is that correct, Rappaport?”

Jacob paused to breathe, tasting the smoke of the officer’s pipe. The mention of Sergeant Mendoza made him slightly uncomfortable. Abraham Mendoza was twenty-one, also from New York City, also a Hebrew, but a sixth-generation American and embarrassingly proud of it. Jacob found him insufferable and assumed the feeling was mutual. Yet one night in the camp, when Jacob was exhausted and lonely and very slightly drunk, he had confided in Mendoza, speaking for the first time about everything he had left behind. Mendoza had been curious, and Jacob had indulged him, grateful for the relief of telling the truth. But then Mendoza had gotten nosy, asking him all about the business, about his father’s friends, about his aunts and uncles and cousins -- and Jacob, irritated, had finally told Mendoza to leave him alone.

“Yes, sir. Mr. Hyams is my uncle, sir,” Jacob said.

“By blood or marriage?” the general asked.

“Marriage, sir. His wife is my mother’s sister,” Jacob replied, both disappointed and baffled. It seemed unlikely that an announcement of a promotion would commence with a review of his family tree -- and with Harry Hyams, of all people. Jacob hadn’t seen Harry since he was fourteen years old, but he remembered him as a kind man, one who for years had brought him toys and books and candies from places he had traveled, entertaining him with exotic stories about ghosts who lived in the Louisiana swamps. Now Jacob looked at the officers before him and tried to suppress a shudder. He thought of his parents, and delusion took over: he imagined that his mother had somehow written to her sister to have him sent back home.

The major noticed his trembling, and smiled. “At ease,” he said, taking up his pipe.

Jacob put a foot to one side and folded his hands behind his back, but he felt even more uneasy than he had felt before. He grimaced slightly as the general continued.

The officer noticed. “No one is holding you accountable for your relatives south of the Mason-Dixon line, Rappaport,” the general said, in an almost fatherly tone. The officer’s voice was soothing, comforting, and a familiar relief seeped into Jacob’s shoulders. It was a feeling that he had once associated with closing the door to his father’s office after a difficult client departed -- with being, at last, among family. He breathed as the officer spoke again. “We simply wondered what your opinion might be of this Harris Hyams.”

It occurred to Jacob then that perhaps this was a promotion after all, simply preceded by a test that he needed to pass. The illogic of this idea -- that a visiting officer would ask him these questions in order to promote him, or that such an examination would require a special visit to the officers’ headquarters at such an odd time of day, or that these questions were in any way pertinent to his future in the regiment -- did not occur to him. He didn’t even think of Harry Hyams; the man himself was irrelevant. Instead he thought of the countless patriotic speeches he had heard in the nine months since he had enlisted, and smartly answered, “Harris Hyams is a slaveowner and a Rebel, sir, and therefore deserving of every disdain.”

Copyright 2009 Dara Horn. Reprinted with permission from W. W. Norton & Co.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Divide Me By Zero
    Divide Me By Zero
    by Lara Vapnyar
    Divide Me By Zero begins with an encounter between the narrator, Katya Geller, a 40-something mother...
  • Book Jacket: Mighty Justice
    Mighty Justice
    by Dovey Johnson Roundtree , Katie McCabe
    What it's about:
    Dovey Johnson Roundtree was one of two lawyers who won the landmark case "Sarah ...
  • Book Jacket: The Seine
    The Seine
    by Elaine Sciolino
    Of the 24 members who reviewed Elaine Sciolino's The Seine: The River that Made Paris for BookBrowse...
  • Book Jacket: Fireborne
    Fireborne
    by Rosaria Munda
    Inspired by classical political theory and the French Revolution, Rosaria Munda's YA debut Fireborne...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Mighty Justice
    by Dovey Johnson Roundtree & Katie McCabe

    An inspiring life story that speaks urgently to our troubled times.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Ordinary Girls
    by Jaquira DĂ­az

    Reminiscent of Tara Westover's Educate and Roxane Gay's Hunger--a memoir that reads as electrically as a novel.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win Home for Erring and Outcast Girls

From the author of
Calling Me Home

An emotionally raw and resonant story of two young women connected by a home for "fallen girls," and inspired by historical events.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

W G Up M C D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.