Lincoln at Mercy, a novel
On a Friday in June 1963, at the fictional corner of Lincoln and Mercy in Trenton NJ, intense preparations are underway in the large Cicero family house and garden: 15-year-old Benny, mentally disabled and institutionalized since the age of 3, is coming home to stay. Traveling the years 1963 to 1994, and then back to 1951, we learn about the Cicero family from Benny’s parents and grandparents, his aunts and uncles, his brother and 11-year-old cousin Alice, and—finally—from Benny himself: about the circumstances surrounding his particular tragedy, and the joy and anxiety his return provokes; about Uncle Milo, aka Miles Sisley, the golden son who led the family from Ellis Island to Pennsylvania coal country, and to prosperity in New Jersey, and to whom Benny’s fate is oddly linked; about how cousin Alice takes Benny under her wing and teaches him to use his Brownie, and count to fifty, but is suddenly taken away for reasons he can’t understand; about how despite the family’s successful attempts at assimilation and financial security, the center cannot hold, the large house falls into disrepair, and the family unravels. A meditation on impermanence and the impossibility of truly knowing those closest to us, Lincoln at Mercy celebrates the bonds of family as it simultaneously indicts those same bonds for the sorrows and injustices they seem to invariably create.
Lincoln at Mercy is as yet unpublished; Nancy is seeking representation. Read a few excerpts: