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The Astralby Kate Christensen
Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Kate Christensen's brilliant, big-hearted skewering of greatness, of men...reminded me that books can be witty, and heartbreaking, and intelligent, and keep you up too late reading. How rare it is that a writer is talented enough to deliver such varied treasures in one novel, but Christensen manages it effortlessly." Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment
"Kate Christensen is a serious writer: Don't be fooled by the relentless hipness or what seems full-throttle frivolity of her subject matter of the joke, if you don't get it, is on you." New York Observer
"Nimble, witty, and discerning, Kate Christensen is single-handedly reinvigorating the comedy of manners with her smart and disemboweling novels of misanthropes, cultural and aesthetic divides, private angst, social ambition, and appetites run amok." Chicago Tribune
"Christensen's writing is clear-eyed, bitingly funny, and supremely caustic about the niceties of social relations, contemporary American culture, and sexual politics." O, The Oprah Magazine
"Christensen is the kind of writer who's willing to say things most people don't dare to. And she knows exactly how to say them."Time
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.
About the Author
Kate Christensen is the author of five previous novels, most recently Trouble. The Great Man won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She has written reviews and essays for numerous publications, most recently the New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Tin House, Elle, and Open City. She lives in New York City.
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