The Door-Man by Peter M. Wheelwright | Book Review

When you walk into a building, do you consider the doorman who gives you access? What secrets do you imagine he might hold about those who frequently pass him at the door, those who come and those who go?

Peter M. Wheelwright’s novel The Door Man ripples with historical details about New York, both state and city, and like someone who tends a door and is privy to the comings and goings of the building’s occupants, this story has a lot of interesting information to share. The main character is Piedmont, the descendant of a paleontologist from the early 1900s so when we meet him as a doorman working at an affluent building on Central Park West in the 1990s, it is immediately striking because we expect him to be one of the building’s residents; not a worker. However, when we learn about Piedmont’s dreams, and how they connect him to his family’s history, to Central Park and to its Reservoir, we begin to understand that this Door-Man is trying to atone for, not continue his family’s legacy. 

The Door-Man is a historically based tale that drives the reader to want to explore the real story of what happened in Gilboa, NY at the reservoir construction and to discover what layers are imagined. Isn’t that the mark of a skilled storyteller that the reader is left believing that maybe it all happened? Wheelwright enriches his tale  with biblical references, scientific history and cultural interest and as a longtime New York lover and reader who enjoys all the aforementioned characteristics in novels, I enjoyed  it all. There are vivid descriptions of dreams that the main character experiences as visions and the author uses these to explore a mysterious, real occurrence that plagues his family history and which the reader can try to solve while going through this book. 

High praise for this historical novel. I recommend The Door-Man to readers who enjoy a combination of science, mystery, religious thought and gender studies in their literary fiction.  

Note: I received a complimentary copy of The Door-Man to participate in a publicity tour organized by TLC Book Tours. I was not otherwise compensated and the above reflects my honest opinion about the book. 

Publisher Synopsis

In 1917, during the construction of a large reservoir in the Catskill hamlet of Gilboa, New York, a young paleontologist named Winifred Goldring identified fossils from an ancient forest flooded millions of years ago when the earth’s botanical explosion of oxygen opened a path for the evolution of humankind. However, the reservoir water was needed for NYC, and the fossils were buried once again during the flooding of the doomed town. A mix of fact and fiction, The Door-Man follows three generations of interwoven families who share a deep wound from Gilboa’s last days. The story is told by Winifred’s grandson, a disaffected NYC doorman working near the Central Park Reservoir during its decommissioning in 1993. The brief and provisional nature of one’s life on earth – and the nested histories of the places, people and events that give it meaning – engender a reckoning within the tangled roots and fragile bonds of family. woman to discover the truth, to protect an artistic legacy, and to give her sister the farewell she deserves.

Book Details

  • Title: The Door-Man
  • Author: Peter M. Wheelwright
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 369
  • Publisher: Fomite Press
  • Publication Date: January 31, 2022

Purchase Links: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

About The Author

Peter Wheelwright is a writer, architect, and educator. He is Emeritus Professor at The New School, Parsons School of Design in New York City, where he taught design and wrote on matters of environmental philosophy, design theory, and social practices in the built and natural worlds.

As It Is On Earth, his first work of fiction, received a 2013 PEN/Hemingway Honorable Mention for Literary Excellence. His most recent novel, The Door-Man, was published February 1, 2022 (Fomite Press).

Educated at Trinity College where he studied painting and sculpture, Peter went on to receive his Master in Architecture from Princeton University. His design work as an architect has been widely published. The Kaleidoscope House, a modernist dollhouse designed in collaboration with artist Laurie Simmons is in the Collection of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art. 

Author Links: Website , Instagram, and Twitter

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