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Aloft

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Aloft Cover

ISBN13: 9781594480706
ISBN10: 1594480702
Condition: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"It's early yet...but it seems safe to say that Aloft will be one of the best books of the year. Given the beauty of Chang-rae Lee's previous work, this isn't too surprising....Lee's genius is this confidential voice, full of cultural analysis, ironic asides, sexual candor, and unconscious revelations, laced along through one breathless paragraph after another in improbably extended sentences, perpetually buoyed by wit and insight." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)

"The mere existence of Aloft — a novel to shelve near Updike's Rabbit quartet and Philip Roth's more recent, captivating fare — made all of my bullshit multicultural predispositions fall from the sky in one scary, satisfying piece....Which is to say that Chang-rae Lee's witheringly precise capture of who we are now, including all of the textures and complexities of our multicultural nation/project, makes this novel an exhilarating read." Ted Weesner Jr., The Cincinnati Review (read the entire review from the Cincinnati Review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Set on affluent Long Island, Aloft follows the life of a suburban, upper-middle-class man during a time of family crisis. Jerry Battle's favorite diversion is to fly his small plane over the neighboring towns and villages. When his daughter and her fiancé arrive from Oregon to announce their marriage plans, he looks back on his life and faces his disengagement with it — his urge to fly solo — and the people he loves.

Chang-rae Lee burst on the scene with Native Speaker, which won numerous awards, including the PEN/Hemingway Award. His second novel, A Gesture Life, established him as one of the preeminent writers of his generation. Now, with Aloft, Lee has expanded his range and proves himself a master storyteller, able to observe his characters' flaws and weaknesses and, at the same time, celebrate their humanity. Aloft is an unforgettable portrait, filled with vitality and urgency, of a man who has secured his life's dreams but who must now figure out its meaning.

Review:

"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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A brilliant and candid parsing of the dynamics of a family of mixed heritage... a ribald look at male sexuality, a charming celebration of the solace of good food, and a sagacious and bitingly funny critique of our times." Donna Seaman, Booklist

Review:

"Beautiful writing, richly drawn characters, and a powerful sense of life enduring in spite of all. A fine and very moving performance." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Lee has dreamed up an intricate, ingratiating character and brought him halfway to life. But there is enough life in Jerry...that half is almost enough, and certainly better than nothing." A. O. Scott, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Though race and identity once again play a part in Lee's work, Aloft, is set mostly in the world of bland privilege, and the narrative seems a composite of Wally Lamb, Anne Tyler and Richard Ford." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Lee writes with humor and acuity, swirling comic wit and subtlety into scenes so mundane and yet so poignant that the heart sighs in recognition." USA Today

Review:

"[Lee] could have played it safe and continued writing about angst-driven Koreans. But in Aloft, he proves that he can evoke the desires and disappointments of the suburban territory mapped by Cheever, Yates and Updike with similar artistry and compassion." Miami Herald

Synopsis:

First time in paperback. The New York Times bestseller from the author of A Gesture Life and Native Speaker.

About the Author

Chang-rae Lee, the author of A Gesture Life and Native Speaker, was selected by the New Yorker as one of the twenty best writers under the age of forty. He teaches creative writing at Princeton University.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

OneMansView, January 30, 2010 (view all comments by OneMansView)
One cannot stay at altitude forever (3.75*s)

This novel follows Jerry Battle, Americanized from Battaglia, his father’s Italian name, for a few months in the year that he is turning sixty, consisting almost entirely of his ruminations concerning his life, past and present, and the larger world. Upon retirement from his Battle Brothers landscape company, turning the reins over to his son Jack, Jerry, on a whim, purchases a small plane after one flying lesson, which, upon being licensed, he often flies over the Long Island area, including his house on which he had shingled a giant “X.” The pleasure that he derives is simply an extension from his lifelong disconnect from life’s messier details and the distance that he has always placed between himself and others: the plane was “the little vessel I was looking for, my private box seat in the world and completely outside of it, too.”

Jerry has always been a reasonably pleasant fellow, not unaccommodating, yet not the strongest guy around: ”I’ve been too willing to share my life’s loads with loved ones, never having the stomach to endure anything alone.” He has also worked hard, but not passionately. However, his reticence in life has not been without its consequences. His Korean wife Daisy drowns herself after a few years of marriage for vague reasons, though sheer enervating boredom would be relevant. His household, which includes his young daughter and son, Theresa and Jack, is saved only by the kindness of a Puerto-Rican housekeeper and soon to be lover Rita over the next twenty years. Inevitably, she becomes exasperated with Jerry and leaves him for a childhood acquaintance of Jerry’s, now a very successful lawyer. The fact that a vague dissonance seems to follow Jerry is given weight when pretty, middle-aged blonde Kelly, an associate of Jerry’s at the Parade travel agency, where he works part time, and an on-again-off-again lover, overdoses on Oxycontin.

Jerry’s summer of turning sixty becomes somewhat event overloaded, providing some semblance of a plot. His father Hank, ensconced in a retirement home, a place according to Hank where “the world’s boredom and isolation is purified,” has his moments of rebellion including disappearing for days. Theresa, taking a break from her critical studies professorship to visit with her new Asian husband and wannabe writer Paul, is pregnant and strangely subdued from her usual disputatiousness – she is hiding a serious illness. And his son’s reckless efforts to greatly expand the landscape business in a down economy, not to mention the huge expense of his McMansion and extravagant lifestyle, are a calamity on the near horizon. The summer is painful for Jerry; but it is a time of halting adjustment and growth for him. As he understands, “that I cannot stay at altitude much longer, even though I have fuel to burn, that I cannot keep marking this middle distance.”

Ethnicity lies just beneath the surface in this story, yet curiously the author seems to go nowhere with it. His Asian son-in-law has an adverse physical reaction to drinking – that’s about it. Perhaps, it is only an indicator of the changing nature of former lily-white suburbia; however, the book is not intended to be a thoroughgoing polemic on the nature of suburban life. Jerry’s observations and the course of his life are not without interest, but the stream-of-consciousness approach results, in the case of this author, in very long, rambling, and shifting sentences – not always easy to follow. It is the keenness of subtle, embedded insights that capture one’s attention and make the book worthwhile. Most of the characters remain sketchy in this thought-centered book, Rita being a tantalizing exception. Another curiosity about the book is that Jerry spends more time in his old Impala than he does flying.

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carriewriter, January 15, 2010 (view all comments by carriewriter)
Excellent book that focuses on relationships, family, status, values, and a very interesting view on modern life. Lots of surprises and plot twists, without feeling contrived. This author really knows what he is doing and gives new meaning to the idea that great fiction should give everyday people extraordinary circumstances and see what happens.
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John Goldsmith, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by John Goldsmith)
Rich and elegant writing, insightful and alluring character development. An, often overlooked, engaging and fulfilling read that leaves you wanting more!
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594480706
Author:
Lee, Chang-Rae
Publisher:
Riverhead Books
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Fathers and daughters
Subject:
Air pilots
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Psychological fiction
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Publication Date:
March 2005
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
7.96x5.22x1.05 in. .67 lbs.

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Related Subjects

» Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
» History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Aloft Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$4.50 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Riverhead Books - English 9781594480706 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "It's early yet...but it seems safe to say that Aloft will be one of the best books of the year. Given the beauty of Chang-rae Lee's previous work, this isn't too surprising....Lee's genius is this confidential voice, full of cultural analysis, ironic asides, sexual candor, and unconscious revelations, laced along through one breathless paragraph after another in improbably extended sentences, perpetually buoyed by wit and insight." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review A Day" by , "The mere existence of Aloft — a novel to shelve near Updike's Rabbit quartet and Philip Roth's more recent, captivating fare — made all of my bullshit multicultural predispositions fall from the sky in one scary, satisfying piece....Which is to say that Chang-rae Lee's witheringly precise capture of who we are now, including all of the textures and complexities of our multicultural nation/project, makes this novel an exhilarating read." (read the entire review from the Cincinnati Review)
"Review" by , "A brilliant and candid parsing of the dynamics of a family of mixed heritage... a ribald look at male sexuality, a charming celebration of the solace of good food, and a sagacious and bitingly funny critique of our times."
"Review" by , "Beautiful writing, richly drawn characters, and a powerful sense of life enduring in spite of all. A fine and very moving performance."
"Review" by , "Lee has dreamed up an intricate, ingratiating character and brought him halfway to life. But there is enough life in Jerry...that half is almost enough, and certainly better than nothing."
"Review" by , "Though race and identity once again play a part in Lee's work, Aloft, is set mostly in the world of bland privilege, and the narrative seems a composite of Wally Lamb, Anne Tyler and Richard Ford."
"Review" by , "Lee writes with humor and acuity, swirling comic wit and subtlety into scenes so mundane and yet so poignant that the heart sighs in recognition."
"Review" by , "[Lee] could have played it safe and continued writing about angst-driven Koreans. But in Aloft, he proves that he can evoke the desires and disappointments of the suburban territory mapped by Cheever, Yates and Updike with similar artistry and compassion."
"Synopsis" by , First time in paperback. The New York Times bestseller from the author of A Gesture Life and Native Speaker.

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