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The Universal Donor
Synopses & Reviews
Craig Nova's novels deserve to be ranked among the best American fiction of the past two decades, writes Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post Book World. Unlike most of his contemporaries, he isn't content with self-referential miniatures; even when his novels are short, they go after the big questions in a big way. Furthermore, the more he writes the better he gets; at this point in his career, scarcely anyone else is in his league.
In this, his ninth novel, Nova tells a suspenseful story of modern passion and complex human motives. Set in contemporary Los Angeles against a background of riots and random acts of violence, The Universal Donor evokes a world where life and love are at every turn menaced by unknown forces, not all of them external to ourselves. Like Paul Auster, Joan Didion, or Robert Stone, Nova takes us beneath the sun-soaked, orderly surface of American life and offers a glimpse of something darker and wilder.
Virginia Lee is a scientist, a proudly rational woman who acts on what she thinks, never on what she feels. When she marries for reasons more practical than romantic, she is shocked at the safety with which she's lived her life. She begins to take risks, and soon goes much too far.
Terry McKechnie is a physician whose emergency-room cases challenge his sense of what is true about his world, his work, and himself. He is growing numb to his own humanity. Then he meets Virginia.
At the center of this couple's story is a freakish accident, a moment of willful carelessness whose complications, both medical and emotional, multiply out of control. At once a thriller, a love story, and a compassionate exploration of moral choices, The UniversalDonor is a waking nightmare of a book, bathed in a compelling dream light all its own.
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