The Melancholy Fate of Capt. Lewis
This is a story about Meriwether Lewis, who embarked in 1804 on his famous expedition with William Clark. He died, presumably by suicide, a few years later. This is also the story of Bill Lewis, told in the present day, as he contemplates his troubled life while trying to determine why Meriwether Lewis would kill himself. Bill must come to grips with depression, family problems, and his own mortality.
Bill Lewis is facing a midlife crisis; he is unhappy in his marriage, he doesn’t enjoy a good relationship with his wife or young son, and he finds himself befriending a pregnant student. While faced with his personal problems, he tries to write a biography about Meriwether Lewis, knowing that the explorer will take his own life after living a life of failed relationships, drugs and alcohol.
The viewpoint switches between the lives of both men. Because Bill is writing about the life of Meriwether Lewis, he describes what will happen to Meriwether, after which the Meriwether character would go through the motions of the story. The novel would have been more compelling if the men’s stories were told in separate chapters to enable readers to differentiate more easily between their points of view. The characters and the story itself are interesting, however, and I would recommend this book if you enjoy reading about people in crisis.