The place is Ithaca, in California's San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley's -- a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America's second-generation immigrants.. In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as delivering his messages of wartime death, love, and money brings him face-to-face with human emotion at its most naked and raw.
William Saroyan thus introduces his readers to his warm and captivating story of an American family in wartime, and in particular to Homer Macauley, the fastest telegraph messenger in the San Joaquin valley. The Human Comedy is filled with unforgettable scenes: Homer running the 220 hurdles, little Ulysses imprisoned in the bear trap in Covington's store, the old-time telegraph operator Wiilie Grogan, with a bottle in the drawer to blur the sharp reality of the everflowing messages of love and hope and pain. In every way, this first novel captures the modesty of ordinary human beings. It is a simple tale and a very great achievement.