By John J. Healey
Arcade Publishing, $24.95, 238 pages
Allegedly, the text of this simultaneously romantic and historical novel was discovered by John J. Healey in his late grandfather’s papers and the real author of Emily and Herman: A Literary Romance remains unknown. According to the author, in the Summer-Fall of 1851, a short but deep and powerful love affair occurred between Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville. Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne met Emily and her brother in Amherst on their way from Berkshire to New York. Without Hawthorne the meeting probably wouldn’t have occurred since it was him who initiated this trip and invited the Dickinsons to join them. The journey took approximately a week but a lot happened in those few days. Emily and Melville not only fell in love, but thanks to Walt Whitman and runaway slave William Johnson, also participated in the underground railroad on the trip home.
It seems that Melville was looking for a way to be together with Emily, but besides a few letters and a short, one-day meeting in September, they never met again. The narrative is sexually charged, but very eloquent.
Reviewed by Galina Roizman