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The Astral : a novel /

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Doubleday, 2011
Edition: First edition.
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From the PEN/Faulkner Award-winning author of The Great Man , a scintillating novel of love, loss, and literary rivalry set in rapidly changing Brooklyn.

The Astral is a huge rose-colored old pile of an apart­ment building in the gentrifying neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. For decades it was the happy home (or so he thought) of the poet Harry Quirk and his wife, Luz, a nurse, and of their two children: Karina, now a fer­vent freegan, and Hector, now in the clutches of a cultish Christian community. But Luz has found (and destroyed) some poems of Harry's that ignite her long-simmering sus­picions of infidelity, and he's been summarily kicked out. He now has to reckon with the consequence of his literary, marital, financial, and parental failures (and perhaps oth­ers) and find his way forward--and back into Luz's good graces.

Harry Quirk is, in short, a loser, living small and low in the water. But touched by Kate Christensen's novelistic grace and acute perception, his floundering attempts to reach higher ground and forge a new life for himself become funny, bittersweet, and terrifically moving. She knows what secrets lurk in the hearts of men--and she turns them into literary art of the highest order.

Review by Booklist Review

The latest by Christensen (The Great Man, 2007) introduces wordy poet-narrator Harry Quirk as a man on the brink of losing his wife, Luz, who kicked him out and destroyed every trace of his latest manuscript, and thusly his entire life in the Astral, the giant old memory-cavern of a building in Brooklyn where they've spent their lives together. Luz, wrongly convinced Harry's been sleeping with his female best friend, is irate and implacable despite Harry's earnest attempts to prove his innocence and continued love for her. Homeless, jobless, and disbelieved by most everyone, Harry begins to take charge of his life in a way he clearly never had to before, getting a crummy job and committing to, with his daughter, rescuing his son from the apparent cult he's joined. A developed cast of characters, not the least of which is Brooklyn itself, populates the narrative, and it comes as somewhat of a relief when Harry realizes he'. become unspeakably, pun intended, bored by the sound and sight of my own poetic voice. A satisfying redoing of a man undone.--Bostrom, Anni. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Like the rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn of its setting, Christensen's unremittingly wonderful latest (after Trouble) is populated by an odd but captivating mix of characters. At the center is Harry Quirk, a middle-aged poet whose comfortable life is upended one winter day when his wife, Luz, convinced he's having an affair, destroys his notebooks, throws his laptop from the window, and kicks him out. Things, Harry has to admit, are not going well: their idealistic Dumpster-diving daughter, Karina, is lonely and lovelorn, and their son, Hector, is in the grip of a messianic cult. Taking in a much-changed Greenpoint, Brooklyn, while working at a lumberyard and hoping to recover his poetic spark, Harry must come to terms with the demands of starting anew at 57. Astute and unsentimental, at once romantic and wholly rational, Harry is an everyman adrift in a changing world, and as he surveys his failings, Christensen takes a singular, genuine story and blows it up into a smart inquiry into the nature of love and the commitments we make, the promises we do and do not honor, and the people we become as we negotiate the treacherous parameters of marriage and friendship and parenthood. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Kate Christensen lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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