Reviews (TD-M)

Praise for The Door-Man

New York Journal of Books

…What can one say when a review of your book starts: “Do.Not.Miss.This.Book.

“Families, as Kinsolver’s great-aunt observes, are “like rivers, flowing in separate courses toward a shared sea, always to meet again.” Will readers of The Door-Man be reminded of the observation of the author of War and Peace that “each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”? Quite possibly, for this is a searing chronicle of man’s inhumanity to each other and to the natural world. That Wheelwright, whose first novel, As It Is on Earth, was awarded a PEN/Hemingway Honorable Mention for Literary Excellence in Debut Fiction in 2013, makes this story life affirming and even love affirming is something of a man-made wonder.”

Foreword Reviews

Can’t do better than this:…5 out of 5 stars!

“From New York City’s Museum Mile to a muddy 1920s construction site, the novel captures its settings in vibrant terms. Between objects that are preserved and Gilboa’s losses from the rising water, ideas concerning power emerge, such as about who decides and weighs the worth of items, people, and places…Avoiding easy resolutions, The Door-Man is a luminous historical novel about patriarchal mistakes, women’s loves, and haunted sons.”

The New Yorker

Briefly Noted, March 21, 2022

Score one for the Indie Presses…

“The thrill of hiding out in one’s own life…”

Kirkus Reviews

A scientifically intriguing, dramatic, and challenging read.

Wheelwright is a thoughtful, meticulous writer, with a fondness for elegant, if rather lengthy, sentences, and his novel offers melancholic, philosophical musings on the frailties of one of Earth’s other successful species: Homo sapiens.

The Historical Novel Society

The Door-Man reminds us that everything is connected, from a glass of water in Manhattan to the origins of life on earth.

The nephew of environmental guru and writer Peter Matthiessen, Wheelwright is something of a Renaissance man: architect, professor, and novelist. In The Door-Man he has created an impressive structure of fiction and nonfiction, both of which contribute to its power, grace and truth.

Small Press Picks

The Door-Man is an intricately constructed and revelatory novel.

A nuanced exploration of how the choices (for good and ill) and misfortunes of one generation, and of those close to them, can have profound effects on future generations.

The Door-Man is Jamesian in the best ways. Wheelwright’s skill in managing the trickiness of the multi-generational novel is laudable.”

Kurt Andersen, author of Evil Geniuses and Fantasyland

The Door-Man is a big, deep, beautiful book that ponders the mysteries of identity and existence–where we’re from and what we are, and the hidden forces that bind people together and drive them apart. Peter Wheelwright has written a riveting multigenerational saga that is also a meditation on time itself–what it gives and what it takes, and ultimately, what endures.

Catherine Chung, author of Forgotten Country and The Tenth Muse

“Good fiction opens new dimensions and perspectives on our existence, and Peter Wheelwright opens many in The Door-Man that will be of particular interest to New Yorkers and New York Staters: the history of Central Park and of the city’s water system, the emergence of the first forests 380 million years ago in the now flooded town of Gilboa; the dioramas and specimen cases of the American Museum of Natural History, the sanctum sanctorum of the planet’s animal diversity; with visits to the Miccosukie people of the Everglades. All in the course of the gripping three-generation saga of an extended family that includes murder, incest, bastard siblings, and all kinds of other skeletons in the closet. A frothy bouillabaisse of narrative history and imaginative storytelling.”

Alex Shoumatoff, literary journalist, author, and editor of

“A suspenseful reflection on identity and memory, with their unsparing strangeness and dreamlike fragility, The Door-Man intimates that while time does not heal all, it does elicit forgiveness. Wheelwright reminds us that, like memory itself, life does not progress steadily without opposition, but occurs in unexpected leaps and bounds, seemingly random and always incomplete. A complex and thoughtful book.”

Susanna Moore, Author of The Lost Wife and In The Cut

“Wheelwright conjures another time and world, a once-here historical intrigue as poignant as memory. Filled with insight, deft detail, wry wit, The Door-Man is exactly the novelistic embrace we need in our agitated bewilderment.”

John Reed, author of A Still Small Voice and Snowball’s Chance

“Like Richard Powers and Barbara Kingsolver, Peter Matthiessen Wheelwright renders the inextricable connection between natural history and human history in this beautifully layered and richly imagined novel. Wheelwright’s perceptive and observant door-man, Kinsolver, is a wonderful repository of comings and goings, past and present. As much philosopher and identity sleuth as valet, he excavates the stories of three generations from their entanglement with the geologic history of upstate New York, thereby offering escape from repetition of an aberrant past. One gets the feeling that Wheelwright knows this territory in his bones!”

                        Paula Closson BuckAuthor of Summer on the Cold War Planet

“Starting from the political intrigue, science, and mechanics of a massive public works project – the creation of a reservoir for New York City by flooding communities in the Catskills – The Door-Man is, at one level, a historical fiction, vibrant with the colors and controversies of the region from the early 20th century, and on this strength alone, it would hold us. But Wheelwright’s writing, so rich with detail, winds across generations and brings to life a vast array of characters—from muleskinners and paleontologists to murderers and a door man. We are swept into a swirling plot that is at once suspense story, speculative fiction, romance, and comedy. And it is more than these. Just as blasting the earth in a tiny upstate town reveals a history before history, setting in motion the quest to revive a primeval forest, Wheelwright’s novel takes us deep into human motivation and beyond it, to a concept of time that dwarfs us. Like his own award-winning As It Is On Earth, or like such classic U.S. novels as Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Cather’s My Antonia, or Roth’s American PastoralThe Door-Man asks each of us to reflect on our place on these American lands and among the people we’ve variously misunderstood, loved, displaced, or forgotten.”

Derek Furr, Author of Suite for Three Voices and Semitones

What Book Bloggers have to say:

This epic generational novel is an engrossing read…with much intrigue and twists as the large cast of characters live and love and conspire.

“…a thoughtful, literary read, one with hidden depths for the persistent reader.”

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

“If…you are person who enjoys epic novels with a historical bent, this may be just the book for you!”

Wheelwright’s writing is extremely well done. The story that takes place in Gilboa is very interesting and the first person narrative of Piedmont Kinsolver III is insightful…If you enjoy a complex, historic, multi-generational tale that moves back and forth in time, then this is the book for you.

I enjoyed the writing, the strong sense of place, and the historical relevance…I think you’ll enjoy The Door-Man if you like literary fiction epics, heavy nature themes, and complex multigenerational stories.

“This is a thoughtful book…a fascinating read that explores a great sense of place and nature and how we and it affect one another…The Door-Man is a perfect book for fans of Richard Powers. It’s also a great pick for book clubs!”

“The image of bones in the water, from the opening scenes of this book, will haunt me for a long time…And what a novel it is! Combining history, science, and family drama, The Door-Man is a novel for those of us who look at the world around us and wonder, “What if?”…”

As I was reading I kept thinking of Richard Powers’ The Overstory, with its interlaced stories and emphasis on science….Wheelwright slowly reveals family secrets as he covers themes including eminent domain, natural history, family, power, and atonement. His settings are vivid, his characters interesting and unique. The Door-Man isn’t a quick read, but if you’re willing to take the time, you’ll enjoy getting immersed in the story.

“…the book made me want to know more about what happened in Gilboa. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, but it was intriguing to learn about the different families, how they interacted with each other, and how their identities were revealed.  I also liked how the story moved back and forth in time; it added a little bit of suspense.

“This book is deep and thoughtful, full of existential ponderings, all of which I enjoy…the unfolding plot was intriguing and suspenseful…”