Mark Helprin is one of the most extraordinary combinations of talent in the world today. His books will be read centuries from now and his ability to write astute political commentary as well as fiction is unmatched.
His fiction is best read slowly in order to savor the flavor. Here's an excerpt from Winter's Tale:
The main door of the French Mill opened, let in some glassy snow, and shut. At first, Peter Lake thought that the wind had done this, but then he looked down and saw two small men walking to a table on the opposite side of the room. Not only were they no more than five feet tall, but they both wore bowler hats, and ragged jackets that, before they were trimmed in the back, had once been tails. Their eyes were sunken, their faces had a leathery look, and they had bony cheeks and mouths that would have been large and toothy on men twice their size. Their hands were fat little balls of flesh with flat infantile thumbs, as delicate and strange as the paws of a tree frog. Their voices matched the rest of them in that they were small and sounded like the supplicating chirp of men who are married to female lumberjacks or prison matrons.