On the Wing: Book Two of Flying: A Trilogy

Overview

In Taking Off, the first installment of Eric Kraft's beguiling trilogy, Peter Leroy built an aerocycle in his parents' garage, working from designs he found in Impractical Craftsman magazine. Cheered on by the gathered residents of his small Long Island beach community, Peter readied his contraption for the adventure of a lifetime: a solo cross-country flight to New Mexico and back.

Now Peter is ready to fly—-and in On the Wing, he tells the hilarious tale of his journey across ...

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2007 Hardcover First Edition; First Printing New in New dust jacket 9780312363741. 1 x 8.3 x 5.5 Inches; 256 pages.

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On the Wing: Book Two of Flying: A Trilogy

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Overview

In Taking Off, the first installment of Eric Kraft's beguiling trilogy, Peter Leroy built an aerocycle in his parents' garage, working from designs he found in Impractical Craftsman magazine. Cheered on by the gathered residents of his small Long Island beach community, Peter readied his contraption for the adventure of a lifetime: a solo cross-country flight to New Mexico and back.

Now Peter is ready to fly—-and in On the Wing, he tells the hilarious tale of his journey across a mid-century America populated by eccentrics, crackerbarrel philosophers, and figments of the national imagination. In small hops, mostly consisting of "taxiing" and "landing," he visits roadside attractions and unusual towns: one where every casual expression and idiom is questioned (hence a diner offering "Real Diner Cooking" rather than real home cooking); another where he is chased with pitchforks and shotguns by citizens still traumatized by Orson Welles's "War of the Worlds"; a remote crossroads where he finds himself under attack by a low-flying plane; and finally a town near Roswell, New Mexico, where Peter becomes a phenomenon to rival Roswell's reputation for alien invasion. Along the way, Peter encounters other on-the-roaders, and finds himself pursued by a mysterious dark-haired girl, who continues to appear in different guises and seems strangely familiar, though he can't quite place her face.

And, in a parallel contemporary journey undertaken with his wife, Albertine, the adult Peter revisits his long-ago journey, navigating as Albertine drives a vintage automobile through a much-changed America, and misremembering every step of the way.

On the Wing is a playful but profound novel about an Icarus who does not crash and burn, but grows older, wiser, and productively forgetful as he reimagines his boyhood to create the story of his life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Taking Off

"Proust gave the world In Search of Lost Time. Balzac enriched civilization with The Human Comedy. Eric Kraft bemuses and enthralls us with The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences, and Observations of Peter Leroy, a series of funny, erudite, and deliciously loony novels.… Taking Off [is] the perfect jumping-in book for readers new to Kraft's vividly rendered and gleefully satirical fictional cosmos."

—-Donna Seaman in Newsday

"Wildly inventive...a splendid start to this promising Flying trilogy."

—-Michael Upchurch in The Seattle Times

"The past is recaptured in accents ruefully funny enough to turn Marcel Proust into Jacques Tati, in the latest Chronicle of Peter Leroy."—-Kirkus Reviews

"A deft piece of work…a wonderful book—-a hilarious and masterfully told tale. It's good to know there's more to come."—-St. Petersburg Times

Publishers Weekly

This fanciful novel, the second volume in Kraft's Flying trilogy (begun with 2006's Taking Off) describes Peter Leroy's solo cross-country "flight" at age 14 on a homemade aerocycle that only got airborne once, when it hit a bump in the road. Traveling from New York to New Mexico, Peter and his aerocycle encounter strange events and even stranger people. He spends a night in jail for being an egotist, visits Forgettable, W.Va., receives useless advice from strangers ("Gravy covers a lot of sins") and is mistaken for a UFO in New Mexico. Kraft has a vivid imagination and a wry sense of humor, spoofing both the 1950s and the present in alternating chapters of a teenaged Peter on his journey, and Peter as an adult taking his wife, Albertine, on an erratic trip of remembrance. This is cheeky, escapist satire, funny and irreverent but-much like its protagonist-without firm direction. (July)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
If Jack Kerouac had had a sense of humor, he'd have left Dean Moriarty in the drunk tank and hit the road with Kraft's irresistible alter ego Peter Leroy. This deliciously engaging trip of a book continues the whopper of a story begun with Taking Off (2006). That was the account of Babbington, Long Island's own Tom Swift: 14-year-old Peter, as he attempted to "pilot" his homemade "aerocycle," The Spirit of Babbington, all the way to New Mexico (albeit mostly via "taxiing" just above the ground). In this sequel, set at the time of the original "flight" and 40-some years later, Kraft offers two richly entertaining, if unequally brilliant, juxtaposed narratives. One details the adolescent's cross-country adventure, during which Peter fends off cops who suspect he's a Martian, falls for one buxom blonde waitress after another, enjoys aid and comfort proffered by his soul mates the MDMC (Muddleheaded Dreamers' Motorcycle Club) and holds fervent conversations with Spirit (i.e., the soul of his jerrybuilt conveyance). Alas, Spirit is no match for the older Peter's splendid spouse Albertine, who accompanies and leads him by the nose everywhere, radiating a no-nonsense attitude that makes us think of Myrna Loy, Kate Hepburn and a kinder, gentler Dorothy Parker. Only Peter the elder and Albertine-who are retracing his young self's adventurous path-would stumble upon one town that worships marshmallows and another that calls itself a museum and charges admission to enter city limits, as well as check into a motel just behind a couple who identify themselves as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Attempting a structural analysis of this sublime tomfoolery would turn your brain to fettuccini, but whocares? As its brilliant final page demonstrates, it really is the journey, not the arrival, that matters. "The world owes a lot to muddleheaded dreamers," we're assured. Yes, but nowhere near as much as rib-tickled readers owe to the indispensable Kraft.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312363741
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/24/2007
  • Series: Flying Ser.: A Trilogy
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.72 (w) x 8.63 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Kraft grew up in Babylon, New York, graduated from Harvard College, and holds a master's degree in teaching from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He has taught school and written textbooks, and he was for a time co-owner and co-captain of a clam boat, which sank. He has been the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, was chairman of PEN New England, and has been awarded the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature. He and his wife, Madeline, live in New Rochelle, New York. Visit www.erickraft.com.

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