"From up here, a half mile above the Earth, everything looks perfect to me " Being a solo flyer made sense to Jerry Battle right from the start. For his 56th birthday, his longtime (and recently ex-) girlfriend Rita Reyes had given him a gift certificate for flying lessons. Once Jerry was up there he thought, 'here was the little space I was ...
"From up here, a half mile above the Earth, everything looks perfect to me " Being a solo flyer made sense to Jerry Battle right from the start. For his 56th birthday, his longtime (and recently ex-) girlfriend Rita Reyes had given him a gift certificate for flying lessons. Once Jerry was up there he thought, 'here was the little space I was looking for, my private box seat in the world and completely outside of it too.' As he soared far above the Earth, everything in Jerry's life seemed perfect. But everything isn't perfect and for such a nice guy, Jerry could wreak an amazing amount of havoc Life is about to deal Jerry Battle his toughest hand yet. With an ailing father yearning to flee his 'Ivy Acres Life Care Centre' and a son teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, Jerry's daughter is about to bestow on him a father's worst nightmare. But maybe Jerry needs finally to work out what it is that separates him from his loved ones, allowing himself to be tugged back to earth to engage with one of the most compelling and unforgettable of family dramas. With Aloft, Chang-rae Lee proves himself to be a master storyteller, simultaneously observing his characters' weaknesses and celebrating their humanity. Filled with vitality and urgency, Aloft is an unforgettable portrait of a man who has secured life's dreams, but who now must struggle to figure out its meaning.
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Publishers Weekly, 2004-03-01 Lee's third novel (after Native Speaker and A Gesture Life) approaches the problems of race and belonging in America from a new angle-the perspective of Jerry Battle, the semiretired patriarch of a well-off (and mostly white) Long Island family. Sensitive but emotionally detached, Jerry escapes by flying solo in his small plane even as he ponders his responsibilities to his loved ones: his irascible father, Hank, stewing in a retirement home; his son, Jack, rashly expanding the family landscaping business; Jerry's graduate student daughter, Theresa, engaged to Asian-American writer Paul and pregnant but ominously secretive; and Jerry's long-time Puerto Rican girlfriend, Rita, who has grown tired of two decades of aloofness and left him for a wealthy lawyer. Jack and Theresa's mother was Jerry's Korean-American wife, Daisy, who drowned in the swimming pool after a struggle with mental illness when Jack and Theresa were children, and Theresa's angry postcolonial take on ethnicity and exploitation is met by Jerry's slightly bewildered efforts to understand his place in a new America. Jerry's efforts to win back Rita, Theresa's failing health and Hank's rebellion against his confinement push the meandering narrative along, but the novel's real substance comes from the rich, circuitous paths of Jerry's thoughts-about family history and contemporary culture-as his family draws closer in a period of escalating crisis. Lee's poetic prose sits well in the mouth of this aging Italian-American whose sentences turn unexpected corners. Though it sometimes seems that Lee may be trying to embody too many aspects of 21st-century American life in these individuals, Jerry's humble and skeptical voice and Lee's genuine compassion for his compromised characters makes for a truly moving story about a modern family. Agent, Amanda Urban. Foreign rights sold in France, Germany, Holland and the U.K. (Mar.) Forecast: Comparable to Updike's later Rabbit novels and Begley's About Schmidt, Aloft broadens Lee's scope and should bump his sales and reputation up another notch. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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