(1899) It had just struck nine from the cuckoo clock that hung over the mantelpiece in the dining-room, when Victorine brought in the halved watermelon and set it in front of Mr. Bessemer's plate. Then she went down to the front door for the damp, twisted roll of the Sunday morning's paper, and came back and rang the breakfast- bell for the second time. As the family still hesitated to appear, she went to the bay window at the end of the room, and stood there for a moment looking out. The view was wonderful. The Bessemers lived upon the Washington Street hill, almost at its very summit, in a flat in the third story of the building. The contractor had been clever enough to reverse the position of kitchen and dining-room, so that the latter room was at the rear of the house. From its window one could command a sweep of San Francisco Bay and the Contra Costa shore, from Mount Diablo, along past Oakland, Berkeley, Sausalito, and Mount Tamalpais, out to the Golden Gate, the Presidio, the ocean, and even--on very clear days--to the Farrallone islands. For some time Victorine stood looking down at the great expanse of land and sea, then faced about with an impatient exclamation.--Chapter 1
A Story of Chicago (1903) Set in the wheat speculation trading pits at the Chicago Board of Trade Building, this is Norris' second book in his trilogy "The Epic of the Wheat". The first book, The Octopus, was published in 1901. Norris died unexpectedly in October 1902 from appendicitis leaving the third book, The Wolf: A Story of Empire, incomplete. Together the three novels were to follow the journey of a crop of wheat from its planting in California to its ultimate consumption as bread in Western Europe.
A Story of San Francisco (1899) This is the story of a couple's courtship and marriage, and their subsequent descent into poverty, violence and finally murder as the result of jealousy and greed. The book was the basis for the films McTeague (1916) and Erich von Stroheim's Greed (1924). It was also adapted as an opera by William Bolcom in 1992.
(1901) This novel presents American history, when California was an open land of promise. Norris relates how the introduction of the railroad significantly metamorphosized the country and how progress may be the cause of fatalities.--Submitted by Anonymous
(1904) This story primarily follows two characters, Bennett and Lloyd, and the unlikely love that blossoms between them. It is one of three romantic novels by this author who typically wrote about more serious topics. It opens with Ward Bennett, an explorer of extraordinary will, and his men making an attempt to reach the North Pole, enduring brutal hardships. Many of the men die slow, painful deaths, and they all would have had a boat not stumbled across them. However, when they arrive back home, Bennett and his surviving men are greeted with a heroes welcome.
Here collected are the longest and most important of his prentice products. Even without those shorter sketches whose interest is, after all, mainly technical, they are an incomparable study in the way a genius takes to find himself. It is as though we saw a complete collection of Rembrandt's early sketches, say-full technique and co-ordination not yet developed, but all the basic force and vision there. Admirable in themselves, these rough-hewn tales, they are most interesting when compared with the later work which the world knows, and when taken as a melancholy indication of that power of growth which was in him and which must have led, if the masters of fate had only spared him, to the highest achievement in letters. WILL IRWIN, March, 1909.
(1914) It was always a matter of wonder to Vandover that he was able to recall so little of his past life. With the exception of the most recent events he could remember nothing connectedly. What he at first imagined to be the story of his life, on closer inspection turned out to be but a few disconnected incidents that his memory had preserved with the greatest capriciousness, absolutely independent of their importance. One of these incidents might be a great sorrow, a tragedy, a death in his family; and another, recalled with the same vividness, the same accuracy of detail, might be a matter of the least moment. A certain one of these wilful fillips of memory would always bring before him a particular scene during the migration of his family from Boston to their new home in San Francisco, at a time when Vandover was about eight years old. It was in the depot of one of the larger towns in western New York. The day had been hot and after the long ride on the crowded day coach the cool shadow under the curved roof of the immense iron vaulted depot seemed very pleasant. The porter, the brakeman and Vandover's father very carefully lifted his mother from the car. She was lying back on pillows in a long steamer chair. The three men let the chair slowly down, the brakeman went away, but the porter remained, taking off his cap and wiping his forehead with the back of his left hand, which in turn he wiped against the pink palm of his right. The other train, the train to which they were to change, had not yet arrived. It was rather still; at the far end of the depot a locomotive, sitting back on its motionless drivers like some huge sphinx crouching along the rails, was steaming quietly, drawing long breaths. The repair gang in greasy caps and spotted blue overalls were inspecting the train, pottering about the trucks, opening and closing the journal-boxes, striking clear notes on the wheels with long-handled hammers.--from Chapter 1
(1898) A Story of Adventure Off the California Coast This is to be a story of a battle, at least one murder, and several sudden deaths. For that reason it begins with a pink tea and among the mingled odors of many delicate perfumes and the hale, frank smell of Caroline Testout roses. There had been a great number of debutantes "coming out" that season in San Francisco by means of afternoon teas, pink, lavender, and otherwise. This particular tea was intended to celebrate the fact that Josie Herrick had arrived at that time of her life when she was to wear her hair high and her gowns long, and to have a "day" of her own quite distinct from that of her mother.--Chapter 1