Love and the Incredibly Old Man: A Novel

Love and the Incredibly Old Man: A Novel

by Lee Siegel

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Overview

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” begins one chapter of critically acclaimed Lee Siegel’s new novel, Love and the Incredibly Old Man. “In the beginning” starts another. What else can a novelist do when hired as a ghostwriter by an elderly, irascible, conquistador-costumed man claiming to be the 540-year-old Juan Ponce de León? The fantastic life of that legendary explorer—inventor of rum, cigars, Coca-Cola, and popcorn—is the frame for Siegel’s fourth chronicle of love, lies, luck, loss, and labia.  
            Summoned with cold hard cash and a pinch of flattery, a professor and novelist named Lee Siegel finds himself in Eagle Springs, Florida, attempting to give form to the life of the man who, contrary to popular and historical opinion, did indeed find the Fountain of Youth. Spending humid days listening to the romantic ramblings of the old man and sleepless nights doubting yet trying to craft these reminiscences into a narrative that will satisfy the literary aspirations of his subject, Siegel the ghostwriter spins an improbable tale filled with Native Americans, insatiable monarchs, philandering cantors, deliriously passionate nuns, delicate actresses, androgynous artists, and deceptions small and large. For de León, and for Siegel too, centuries of conquest and colonialism, fortune and identity, are all refracted through the memories of the conquistador’s lovers, each and every one of them adored “more than any other woman ever.”
            Comic, melancholic, lusty, and fully engaged with the act of invention, whether in love or on the page, Love and the Incredibly Old Man continues the real Lee Siegel’s exuberant exploration of that sentiment which Ponce de León confesses has “transported me to the most joyous heights, plunged me to the most dismal depths, and dropped me willy-nilly and dumbfounded at all places in between.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226757070
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 11/15/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 625 KB

About the Author

Lee Siegel is the author of numerous books, including Love in a Dead Language, Love and Other Games of Chance, and Who Wrote the Book of Love?

Table of Contents

Preface
2005
An Introduction to Juan Ponce de León
 
Chapter One
1465–1493
Wherein Ponce de León, after his childhood, boyhood, and youth in Spain, is dispatched by Queen Ysabel to the Indies in search of a Fountain of Youth
 
Chapter Two
1493–1513
Wherein Ponce de León settles in the New World, becomes governor of Higuey and of Borinquen, invents cigars and rum, and discovers popcorn and Florida
 
Chapter Three
1513
Wherein Ponce de León happens upon the Garden of Eden, discovers within it the Fountain of Life, and devises a plot by which to keep it secret
 
Chapter Four
1514–1564
Wherein Ponce de León becomes a Zhotee-eloq Indian, lives as one of them in Paradise, and attempts to save them from extermination

Chapter Five
1565–1647
Wherein Ponce de León becomes a priest of the Catholic Church, visits his tomb in Puerto Rico, and establishes Florida’s Mission of San Hortano
 
Chapter Six
1647–1763
Wherein Ponce de León becomes a wealthy merchant, purchases the land of the Mission of San Hortano for the cultivation of tobacco, becomes his own son, and then his grandson
 
Chapter Seven
1763–1783
Wherein Ponce de León becomes a Jew and dedicates Florida’s first synagogue for Congregation Beth Mekor-Hayim
 
Chapter Eight
1784–1821
Wherein Ponce de León opens Florida’s first theater and returns to the stage to play, among others, Christ, Columbus, Hamlet, an Old Man, and himself
 
Chapter Nine
1821–1865
Wherein Ponce de León becomes an American citizen, opens a yellow fever sanatorium and, subsequently, an infirmary for Confederate soldiers wounded in the Civil War
 
Chapter Ten
1865–1915
Wherein Ponce de León becomes himself at celebrations of Florida Discovery Day, and at the openings of the Hotel Ponce de Leon, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse, and the Grace Methodist Fountain of Youth Residence for the Aged
 
Chapter Eleven
1915–2005
Wherein Ponce de León opens and maintains the Garden of Eden, the Fountain of Youth, and the Ponce de Leon Museum of Florida History
 
Coda
2005–2006
Wherein the author ends the story of Juan Ponce de León

Customer Reviews

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Love and the Incredibly Old Man: A Novel 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jfetting on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Love and the Incredibly Old Man" is an entertaining, raunchy, funny story about a writer, Lee Seigel, who agrees to ghostwrite the memoirs of Ponce de Leon, who turns out to have found the Fountain of Youth after all and is now a 540 year old man living in St. Augustine, FL. The book, as Ponce de Leon imagines it and the real-life Lee Seigel presents it, is an homage to all the famous explorer's lovers (aka the women he "cardar-red"). I've seen the book described as "porny", and while it is a bit on the racy side, it's not even remotely graphic. Seigel's prose is amusing throughout, and often laugh-out-loud funny, particularly when Ponce and book-Seigel disagree about what should be included in the memoir. The Ponce de Leon character is fantastic - arrogant and obnoxious and over-the-top (he loves almost every woman mentioned "more than any woman ever") and absolutely the best part of the novel.
Stromata on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Oh dear......I do wish I could have got into this book. Having tried on at least three occassions I was not able to get past the first dozen or so pages, which was a pity as the premis was most promising. Perhaps this was just a case of 'win some-lose some' as the writing was rather good and I will seek out Lee Siegels other books.