As High as the Scooter Can Fly

( 1 )

Overview

Written with soft-pedaled irony, captivating charm, and tremendous heart, Lia Nirgad's As High as the Scooter Can Fly will seduce fans of Alice Hoffman, Angela Carter, and The Little Prince-it is the perfect grown-up fairy-tale.

Stuck in a small suburban house, with three daughters and an impressively dull husband who leaves her frozen inside, Layla dreams of far-off lands and a more fabulous life, asking herself, as Peggy Lee did, "Is That All There Is?" (But don't we all ...

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Overview

Written with soft-pedaled irony, captivating charm, and tremendous heart, Lia Nirgad's As High as the Scooter Can Fly will seduce fans of Alice Hoffman, Angela Carter, and The Little Prince-it is the perfect grown-up fairy-tale.

Stuck in a small suburban house, with three daughters and an impressively dull husband who leaves her frozen inside, Layla dreams of far-off lands and a more fabulous life, asking herself, as Peggy Lee did, "Is That All There Is?" (But don't we all sometimes ?!) With fairy tale logic, her wish for travel makes it so-if you don't ask you don't get-and she discovers in her backyard a flying scooter, covered by vines, dead leaves, and lots of dust. And of course, if you remember your dream and brush off the dead leaves and dust and untangle the vines, things can start to happen. And they do.

Layla embarks on a series of trips, while her sisters watch on-but not silently. Liora, the eldest, nags Layla to grow up and settle down, and she has a potion to help. Linor, whose eyes change from violet to blue before she plucks men's hearts out with her knife-sharp nails, urges Layla to find a lover. Lihi advocates denial, and Luna, long dead, visits Layla at night and sniffs her troubled dreams. And if these conflicting opinions weren't enough, Layla and her sisters are ruled by the Loveless Winds, which urge them to settle for security and to forget about love and passion. But are they right? As Layla travels the globe, throwing herself headlong into life, she encounters everything a heroine deserves-nothing less than the world, in all its rich confusion and voluptuous delight.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Layla is bored with her lot as a suburban housewife in this modern-day parable set in an unnamed city. Though she loves her three daughters, she longs for a more exotic world free of the indifference and fatigue of her present life. Can a flying scooter, unearthed in her backyard, be the answer to her prayers? This childish novel is fitfully captivating, but the fanciful world Nirgad fashions-in which four sisters (one long dead), elves and bats deluge the protagonist with advice-grows tiresome. Upon discovering the scooter, Layla, a frustrated traveler, neglects her household chores for fantastic jaunts to Prague or Alaska. As might be expected, the thinly drawn supporting cast grows weary of her antics. The author pays homage to every overburdened mother's standard "take me away" fantasy, a worthy plot device, but Layla's well-intentioned husband is predictably painted as a villain for wishing his wife would look to him for happiness. While Nirgad's descriptions of sisterly affection and childhood secrets provide occasional bursts of charm, her prose often shades to precious ("He was just the perfect kind of elf you'd want to have for yourself, perfect as a sunset with champagne"). A stern, unnamed narrator addresses the reader directly, as is common in the parable form, but this particular narrator is distracting, chiding readers at every turn for their presumed disbelief in the story. Though well-intentioned, this feminist fairy tale is more tedious than transporting. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Touted as an adult fairy tale, this first novel from translator Nirgad strains to fly in the company of such luminaries as Saint-Exupery's The Little Prince but falls short. Layla, a young mother of three lovely daughters, has been languishing for seven years in a loveless marriage to an unnamed dullard of a husband. One might ask why she married him in the first place. Being unnamed and given no history, the husband immediately gained the sympathy of this "dearest reader." Layla also has four sisters with various powers and charms and, irritatingly, names beginning with "L": Liora, Lenore, Lihi, and Luna. Layla finds a magic scooter, flies off to see the world, and encounters talking creatures: a mink, a bat, and a wish-granting elf who finally bestows on Layla her heart's deepest desire, (surprise) a prince. While the story exudes imagination and invokes some charming pictures, it lacks the coherence and depth of true fable. At the end, this "dearest reader" found herself asking "W" questions: "What for?" and "Why bother?" Not recommended.-Sheila Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, DC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A sweet little allegory with an afterbite as a sad, lonely housewife reaches adventure and despair on her flying scooter: the first US appearance for Belgium-born writer and translator Nirgad. Layla, one of five daughters whose names start with L, lives a straitened suburban life in a cold, tight house with her own three perfect daughters and a silent, cold husband when she discovers that the rusty scooter out back can fly. First, she asks it to fly her to Alaska but is put off when the resident talking mink tells her there's nothing but whiteness to be seen. Her sisters are well-intentioned but suspicious: Liora, the oldest, who bottles elixirs to keep her family nice and small; Lenora, the loose, unmarried one with a frigid, unfeeling heart; Lihi, the youngest, who "hadn't learned any tricks yet"; and the sad dead sister, Luna, who was torn apart by the Winds at age 12 after the fatal pact made by their mother. Luna can come back occasionally because the sisters have promised the Winds never to love a man while he lies asleep-a promise Layla will break when she meets her Prince, for, once she gets going, there's no stopping Layla. She flies to Prague and discovers her voice, which was always too timid to be heard. She stays out later than she should, and her husband begins to fume and offers her an ultimatum: either stay or lose her daughters. Will this seemingly innocuous little fairy tale end happily or tragically? Nirgad relies on a breezy, ironical tone, never letting the reader quite know whose side she's on but just taking delight in telling the story. Her chatty, knowing approach is winning, leaving much to ponder in this modern-day morality tale that fathoms depths of the heartas profoundly as might Madame Bovary. A feminist tale for all good men and women who fancy they sleep well at night.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585673131
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 8.76 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Meet the Author

Lia Nirgad is a writer and translator, born in Belgium and raised in Nigeria, Argentina, and Israel. As High as the Scooter Can Fly is her first novel to be published in English. Her translations include Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, and Lorrie Moore's Birds of America.
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2003

    Skip the scooter ride

    This was a selection for a book club. While the title brought to mind whimsy and fun...the book was HORRIBLE! It had no redeeming qualities. What was she thinking and how ever did she get it published?

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