Franklin Flyer

Franklin Flyer

4.5 8
by Nicholas Christopher
     
 

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In this shimmering work of fiction, Nicholas Christopher follows the remarkable life of Franklin Flyer–a restless young inventor named after the train on which he was born–through the tumultuous years of the Great Depression, into the Second World War.

Raised by his suffragette aunt, at various times a vagabond and tycoon, Franklin travels…  See more details below

Overview

In this shimmering work of fiction, Nicholas Christopher follows the remarkable life of Franklin Flyer–a restless young inventor named after the train on which he was born–through the tumultuous years of the Great Depression, into the Second World War.

Raised by his suffragette aunt, at various times a vagabond and tycoon, Franklin travels across the U.S.A and around the globe, seeking adventure and enlightenment, charting his fate by pursuing the unexpected.

He encounters a glittering cast of characters: among them Rita Hayworth, Josephine Baker, OSS founder “Wild Bill” Donovan, and a host of political zealots, opportunists, and dreamers thrown together in a world on the brink of collapse.

With each new invention–devices that help to revolutionize everything from early television to the technology with which the Allies respond to the Axis powers–Franklin makes his mark. Gaining fame and fortune, he also suffers terrible heartbreak, and through numerous transformations discovers that a man’s own life is truly his most difficult, and rewarding, invention.

A brisk, vivid blend of history and imagination, Franklin Flyer brings to life an American hero as unforgettable as his times.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

L.A. Times
The novel's…action [is] freighted with fatality and symbolism…[Franklin Flyer] is an exemplary young American of his time: bright, talented, handy with his fists, an inventor and a patriot.
BOMB Magazine
Using crisp, vivid and charged language, Christopher creates a series of colorful tableaux through which the eponymous hero glides like a double agent in a thriller.
Washington Post Book World
Christopher is a writer of remarkable gifts; he weaves fascinating and esoteric material into a story where such diversions never seem out of place.
Advocate and Greenwich Time
At 317 pages of swift-moving prose, [Franklin Flyer is] a work of historical/period fiction, a spy novel, comic book, comical jaunt, love story, spiritual quest and an inventor's tale.
New York Times Book Review
Hip, sexy . . . a novel in which anything can happen . . . Mr. Christopher is a superbly lyrical and descriptive writer.
New Yorker
Satisfying as the storytelling is, the deeper pleasures here stem from the author's imaginative and idiosyncratic scholarship, by means of which the uncanny is made to seem commonplace and the commonplace unfathomable.
Toronto Globe and Mail
Christopher is North America's García Márquez; Borges with emotional weight. . .This is one of those rare books that, by connecting with the stars, catches you in its web.
Chicago Tribune
Extraordinary . . . a dizzying, dazzling ride . . . an elegant, idiosyncratic work of art.
Publishers Weekly
If Graham Greene collaborated with the creator of Dick Tracy, the result might read like this quirky, whirlwind tale of ordinary men contending with a worldwide Nazi conspiracy. Christopher (A Trip to the Stars) starts things off in the 1930s, whenFranklin Flyer, a young American inventor and adventurer, signs on as interpreterfor an expedition into the Argentine outback to hunt for deposits of zilium, a miracle metal. Returning to the States, Flyer is involved in numerous scrapes until he ends up working as an illustrator for Otto Zuhl's pulp empire. With the money he makes from one of his inventions, Flyer buys out Zuhl, whose friends one of whom he recognizes from the zilium expedition turn out to be a bunch of Nazi sympathizers.He is smitten by Zuhl's secretary, Persephone Eckert, who is weirdly stocked with esoteric Egyptian lore. However, as the low, dishonest decade nears its end, Flyer has no time for minor mysteries: U.S. intelligence has recruited him to break up the zilium ring. He ends up in Marseilles, where among the crowds of refugees he meets a former lover, Narcissa, and learns he has a daughter. Flyer gets them out of France and is then given the most dangerous assignment of his career. This one should go over well with readers of WWII espionage novels, but Franklin who's like a smart Forrest Gump will appeal to a broader audience, too. (Apr. 2) Forecast: Christopher's successes as an accomplished poet, novelist, essayist and editor make him a critic's favorite. Comparisons to another playful period adventure, Michael Chabon's The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, could help booksellers handsell Franklin Flyer to those not yet in the know. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
After the complex but elegant A Trip to the Stars: the story of young inventor Franklin Flyer (named for the train) who meets the likes of Josephine Baker. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Huge chunks of 20th-century history are handled with elliptical finesse in Christopher's fourth novel (following A Trip to the Stars, 2000): an episodic picaresque with bits and snatches reminiscent of Doctorow's Ragtime, Millhauser's Martin Dressler, Purdy's Malcolm, and Woody Allen's Zelig. The eponymous protagonist (so named for the train whose wreckage he survived as an infant) is first seen in 1929, when, aged 22, he likewise escapes the fats of many ruined by the stock market crash. Thereafter, we observe Franklin during the years 1930-42, as his dreams of becoming an inventor and acquiring great wealth ("to prosper, to do good, to explore") take him to several continents, astonishing adventures, and relationships with several enchanting women. In Antarctica, he weathers a storm at sea and is rescued by a Norwegian freighter; in Buenos Aires, he protects a teenaged tango dancer from her abusive father-just before joining a mountaineering expedition in search of the valuable metal zilium (which will be coveted by Hitler's scientists). Franklin moves on to Alabama, and a lingering infatuation with black blues singer Narcissa Stark, then forms various bonds with socialist guru Justinian Walzowski and pulp publisher Otto Zuhl, while dallying romantically with multiple partners and pursuing a briefly glimpsed mystery woman who may be named Anita Snow. The threat and outbreak of war engage Franklin in covert work for OSS chief "Wild Bill" Donovan, and a plethora of international intrigue and espionage seemingly deployed to illustrate the truth of the principle Franklin had derived from Marcus Aurelius: that "nothing ever disappears, it's merely transformed." Much of this sophisticatedhoo-hah is highly enjoyable, but it whizzes by too quickly: the story's calculated hit-and-run structure distracts almost as much as it entertains. At one point we're informed that "Franklin felt as if events-history itself-had been speeded up to a lunatic pace." So will the reader.
From the Publisher
“The novel is stacked with outrageous, larger-than-life characters…None of them, however, is as colorful as Franklin himself.”—Seattle Times

“A special novel…Christopher’s blending of fact and fiction is admirably seamless…A book that the reader will wish had a few—no, make that quite a few—more pages.” —Denver Post

“If Graham Greene collaborated with the creator of Dick Tracy, the result might read like this quirky, whirlwind tale of ordinary men contending with a worldwide Nazi conspiracy.” —Publishers Weekly

“A tale of journey, loss and rebirth…a story full of charm.” —New York Times Book Review

“The novel’s…action [is] freighted with fatality and symbolism…[Franklin Flyer] is an exemplary young American of his time: bright, talented, handy with his fists, an inventor and a patriot.” —L.A. Times

“Using crisp, vivid and charged language, Christopher creates a series of colorful tableaux through which the eponymous hero glides like a double agent in a thriller.” —BOMB Magazine

“A pleasure to read…Positively glow[s] with descriptive grace…A lovely investigation of ‘the only mystery worth pursuing,’ the metamorphoses of the human spirit, observed at both stillness and breakneck speed.” —Washington Post Book World

“Here is a happy surprise, a book that is highly entertaining, ingenious and a delight for the imagination…the writer constructs an old-fashioned romance in an entirely pleasing way. Nicholas Christopher leads us into a world that never really existed but for which we still yearn.” —Newark Star-Ledger, New Jersey

“A lovely blend of fantasy and history.” —Booklist

“At 317 pages of swift-moving prose, [Franklin Flyer is] a work of historical/period fiction, a spy novel, comic book, comical jaunt, love story, spiritual quest and an inventor’s tale.”—Advocate & Greenwich Time, Connecticut

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307485090
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/18/2008
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
File size:
5 MB

Read an Excerpt

In this shimmering work of fiction, Nicholas Christopher follows the remarkable life of Franklin Flyer–a restless young inventor named after the train on which he was born–through the tumultuous years of the Great Depression, into the Second World War.

Raised by his suffragette aunt, at various times a vagabond and tycoon, Franklin travels across the U.S.A and around the globe, seeking adventure and enlightenment, charting his fate by pursuing the unexpected.

He encounters a glittering cast of characters: among them Rita Hayworth, Josephine Baker, OSS founder “Wild Bill” Donovan, and a host of political zealots, opportunists, and dreamers thrown together in a world on the brink of collapse.

With each new invention–devices that help to revolutionize everything from early television to the technology with which the Allies respond to the Axis powers–Franklin makes his mark. Gaining fame and fortune, he also suffers terrible heartbreak, and through numerous transformations discovers that a man’s own life is truly his most difficult, and rewarding, invention.

A brisk, vivid blend of history and imagination, Franklin Flyer brings to life an American hero as unforgettable as his times.

Meet the Author

NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER is the author of three previous novels, The Soloist, Veronica, and A Trip to the Stars, seven books of poetry, and a book about film noir, Somewhere in the Night. He lives in New York City.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Franklin Flyer 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
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