Path of Minor Planets

( 3 )


In 1965, on a small island in the South Pacific, a group of astronomers gather to witness the passing of a comet, but when a young boy dies during a meteor shower, the lives of the scientists and their loved ones change in subtle yet profound ways. Denise struggles for respect in her professional life, married Eli becomes increasingly attracted to Denise and her quixotic mind, and young Lydia attempts to escape the scientists’ long-casting shadows. Andrew Sean Greer’s remarkable and sweeping first novel is an ...

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The Path of Minor Planets: A Novel

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In 1965, on a small island in the South Pacific, a group of astronomers gather to witness the passing of a comet, but when a young boy dies during a meteor shower, the lives of the scientists and their loved ones change in subtle yet profound ways. Denise struggles for respect in her professional life, married Eli becomes increasingly attracted to Denise and her quixotic mind, and young Lydia attempts to escape the scientists’ long-casting shadows. Andrew Sean Greer’s remarkable and sweeping first novel is an exploration of chances taken and lost, of love found and broken, and of time’s subtle gravitational pull on the lives of everyday and extraordinary people.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“One of the wisest, most compassionate novels about smart people’s emotional lives to come around in years.” —San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“Greer pinpoints the ‘tiny hidden madnesses in ordinary people’ with unerring accuracy, and, in prose littered with sparks, makes palpable the longing for the celestial.” —The New Yorker

“[Greer’s] carefully crafted sentences can ring with ethereal beauty, and his metaphors are vivid and creative....Greer is a writer to watch; he has a literary style that’s worth wrapping around his sensitive perspective on the world.” —The Boston Globe

Library Journal
In 1965, a small band of astronomers and their families gathers on a remote South Pacific island to watch Comet Swift, but instead they witness a tragic accident that results in the death of a child. This event triggers momentous change in the lives of the observers, who reunite every six years on the island to comet-gaze. For 25 years, in a tale that is more "tell" than "show," Greer tracks the lives of Eli and Kathy Spivak; the brilliant Denise, wife of Adam and colleague (and then lover) of Eli; and Dr. Swift and his daughter Lydia, who is a miniature astronomer of the heart. As the years go by, Lydia observes the love affairs, academic jealousies, and relationship subterfuges that move across the tropical landscape during the reunions. Like worrying a sore tooth, the scientists revisit personal mistakes and weaknesses, intent on dissecting their ineffectiveness despite their collective intellectual powers. The result is a brainy debut novel by an award-winning short-story writer (How It Was for Me). For larger libraries. Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor District Lib., MI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312306052
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,001,454
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Sean Greer

Andrew Sean Greer is the bestselling author of five works of fiction, including The Story of a Marriage, which The New York Times has called an "inspired, lyrical novel," and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named a best book of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Tribune. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, and The Paris Review. He is the recipient of the Northern California Book Award, the California Book Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award, the O Henry Award for short fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Public Library. Greer lives in San Francisco.


Born in Washington, D.C., Andrew Sean Greer studied creative writing at Brown University (where he delivered the Commencement speech at his own graduation ceremony!) and received his M.F.A. in 1996 from the University of Montana. After grad school, he moved to the West Coast, living for a while in Seattle before finally settling in San Francisco. His work began to appear in literary magazines, and in 2000 he released How It Was for Me, an anthology of short stories The New York Times Book Review called an "impressive first collection." One year later, his debut novel The Path of Minor Planets was published to much acclaim.

However, it was his second novel, 2004's The Confessions of Max Tivoli, that proved to be Greer's big breakthrough. The title character of this bittersweet love story is a freak of nature: Born a baby with the appearance of a 70-year-old man, Max proceeds to live his entire life in reverse, ending up a wise old man trapped in the body of a helpless child. In a glowing New Yorker review, literary legend John Updike proclaimed the novel "...enchanting, in the perfumed, dandified style of disenchantment brought to grandeur by Proust and Nabokov." It was named a year-end best book by The San Francisco Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, and the Miami Herald. His most current work is The Story of a Marriage.

In addition to his novels, Greer continues to publish short fiction, reviews, and criticism. His work has appeared in Esquire, Paris Review, The New Yorker, and The New York Times.

Good To Know

In our interview, Greer shared some fun and fascinating facts about himself with us:

"I'm an identical twin. His name is Michael Greer and he's also a fiction writer, and though our styles are very different, we love reading each other's work. We used to live a block apart in San Francisco, but he went to grad school in New York and now lives in Brooklyn, so if you think you've seen me on the streets of New York, it's probably not me, but say hi anyway. We're both very used to being greeted by strangers who think we're someone else."

"Some early jobs I had while trying to survive as a writer: reservationist at a fancy restaurant, chauffeur for a woman who couldn't drive because of a double mastectomy, sound and lighting Technician for experimental theater in New York, acting extra on Saturday Night Live, game tester for Nintendo, attendant to a woman recovering from plastic surgery, and so on. Although every writer must have a day job, I vowed at least to make mine interesting so I'd have something to write about. One of my weirdest jobs -- touring New England private schools with a Vietnamese boy and pretending to be his English tutor -- made it into the first story of my collection, How It Was for Me."

"I like dogs and burritos. I dislike direct sunlight and cantaloupes."

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    1. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 21, 1970
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A. in English, Brown University, 1992; M.F.A . in Fiction, University of Montana, 1996

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2001

    Glorious Work From A New Writer

    I read this last weekend and it kept me up late. I thought of The Good Soldier, by Ford Maddox Ford, not because it's particularly sad, but because I was putty in the narrator's hands. Best book I've read all year, and believe me, I've read plenty.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 2, 2013

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