From acclaimed storyteller, Harry Mark Petrakis, Twilight of the Ice is a dramatic tale of revelation and redemption set against the backfrop of the 1950's Chicago railroad yards.
Praise for Twilight of the
|The newest novel from acclaimed storyteller Harry
Mark Petrakis, Twilight of the Ice is a dramatic tale of revelation and
redemption set against the backdrop of the 1950s Chicago rail yards. In
a classic yarn expertly balancing the realistic with the mythic, Petrakis
chronicles the life of Mike Zervakis, a Greek immigrant and the last in
the line of the strong, skilled railroad car icemen, in a profession becoming
obsolete with the advent of modern refrigeration.
After fleeing from the despotic Turkish occupation of his homeland of Crete, and then escaping from boyhood servitude in his uncle’s shabby Chicago lunchroom, Mike at last finds his calling in the craft of the ice at the Team Track, the desolate ice depot in the heart of industrial Chicago. Here, under the oppressive rule of brutal foreman Earl, and bolstered by the camaraderie of alcoholic former schoolteacher Rafer Martin, Mike carves out his fate.
Mike’s icing world is populated by a rough crew of old-timers and rookies, including the stoic Polish icemen Budny and Orchowski, the buoyant and reckless Noodles, the brooding war veteran Stamps, and Mike’s young helper and surrogate son, Mendoza. This harsh world is also home to Mike’s beloved, the prostitute Reba; Rafer’s temptation incarnate, the fragile Leota; and the old iceman-turned-preacher, Israel, a man plagued with apocalyptic visions of a second ice age in which mankind’s salvation would depend upon the chosen icemen.
Beset by age and a failing body, Mike yearns to find his heir, someone to whom he can pass his skill and his devotion to the craft. After finding only cold indifference among the young summer workers, he finally is introduced to the powerful young giant, S.K., a born iceman. But when S.K. carelessly causes the death of an icing veteran, old hatreds surface and Mike’s dream of a successor seems doomed. All that remains for the master iceman is a final savage struggle against his exacting taskmaster, Earl, and an even more relentless foe, the twilight of his own life.
from Twilight of the Ice
“I had a dream about you last night, Mike,” Israel said. “I was holding a revival at the mission and you were seated in the congregation. When I called witnesses for Jesus, you were the first man to step forward.” He sighed. “God be praised, it was a glorious moment.”
“Now, Israel, you know I’m not the kind to jump up like some holy roller and claim I found religion,” Mike said. “I think sometimes you get so carried away by the power of your preaching, you mix me up with another iceman.”
“Even in a dream I’d know your rocky, weather-battered head,” Israel said. “It was you! Pacheco and Abrogano were there too.”
“Most preachers would be satisfied, Israel, preaching to the living,” Mike said. “You got to bring the dead back into your congregation, as well.”
“That was the beauty of the revelation!” Israel exclaimed. “Two dead icemen returned from purgatory to witness a prodigal find Jesus! It was a miracle!”
“I admire your faith, Israel,” Mike said, “and I know you’re a powerful dreamer. But I got to walk my own road.”
“Walk with Jesus and the road won’t be as hard!” Israel said fervently. “I’ve told you many times before, he’ll help you fathom your place in the crusade of the ice.”
“And I’ve told you before, I don’t know what icing has to do with a crusade,” Mike said genially. “Icing is loading the trucks, hauling it to the trains, filling the bunkers with ice quickly, and doing it right. You iced enough to understand that.”
“The icing is the crusade! You’re the only icemaster left now, Mike, the last champion. Before you put down your pick and tongs, you’ve got to find someone strong and talented you can teach your craft, someone to carry on the icing after you’re gone!”