An enjoyable, mostly sympathetic (fictional) narrative of Melville's life. This is no biography, nor does it attempt to be, but rather an attempt to blow life into a character most of us know only as a name on a book's cover (if even that). To Parini's credit, he brought us a Herman Melville who was not flat as paper he wrote on, but three-dimensional, with hopes, dreams, pain, happiness, and everything in between. While this wasn't exactly the Melville I've conjured in my own mind from reading a good deal of his writings, it was not totally unlike how I imagined him, either. None of us, given only an author's books to go by, would ever come away with the same impression of him/her, so that Parini's take on Melville differs from mine is unsurprising.
Also being a fan of Tolstoy's, I'll be sure to check out [b:The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year|2081356|The Last Station A Novel of Tolstoy's Last Year|Jay Parini|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1349053292s/2081356.jpg|1685227] one of these days, too.