From Publishers Weekly: "The technological promise of the new 20th century permeates this spare, lyrical first novel by veteran short story writer Croft (Necessary Fictions; Primary Colors and Other Stories). It opens on the eve of WWI, when 68-year-old Civil War vet Jim Moon "step[s] off" a ferry in the New York harbor and drowns. It's the job of a shifty cop to piece together Jim's life through his diary excerpts, and it is through this weaving of past and present that his story is told. Briefly settled down in Iowa with a wife and son after years of drifting, Jim reads about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and its vision of a future industrial age in which "[a]ir ships would navigate the sky. Taxation would be minimal.... War would be abolished." Lured by the city "all of white," Moon abandons his home and begins living hand-to-mouth in the shadow of the fair. When the fair closes, Moon remains in Chicago, falling in with a mysterious troublemaker who alternately cons and befriends him, and pursuing a beautiful woman beyond his means. Though searching and idealistic, Moon is swept up in the poverty, labor strife and cronyism of the turn of the century, while in the novel's present, the cop and a girl who knew Moon experience a growing tenderness. Croft's novel is as precise and posed as an oil portrait: lovely descriptions abound, but abbreviated subplots involving Moon's abandoned wife and grown son fail to resonate with the larger story. This may stem from the story's pedigree: it grew from a short story in Primary Colors to an award-winning novella, then this lovely but slightly uneven novel." Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.