Sea of Tranquillity

Sea of Tranquillity

by Paul Elliott Russell

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Russell's third novel (after Boys of Life), a transplanetary sexual fantasia that chronicles the life of an astronaut's family in the age of AIDS, is so humongous in its attempted scope that it succeeds at a lot of things, among them confounding the reader. Told by four different characters in alternating sections, the book charts the lives of numerous people in such varied locations as Florida, Turkey, Africa, Washington, D.C., and the moon. There are characters who succeed entirely, like Allen Cloud, repressed astronaut, who goes into mental orbit when he discovers that his son, Jonathan, is dying of AIDS, and whose story is well realized through tight, realist writing. Yet the novel suffers from a plethora of imagery and a glut of metaphor: a grove of sycamores that die by the saw; the moon; various seas of tranquillity. The book's center, depicting Jonathan's sexual exploits and illness, is clouded by long-winded surrealist riffs and disjointed meditations on outer space. The fascinated speculation particular to Russell's writing works best when it's hitched to real-life objects-like Cloud's rocket-and not left free-floating in space. We are left dazed and tingly at the end, as if we had just witnessed an abortive moon mission. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In 1970, astronaut Allen Cloud is about to begin training for an Apollo moon mission when his personal life crumbles. He separates from his wife, Joan, and discovers that his mercurial son Jonathan is gay. Joan and Jonathan depart Houston for Tennessee, where Jonathan meets Stayton Voegli, a shy preacher's son who becomes his lover. Events then shift to 1990 when Allen's life has soured as a result of a bad business deal and Jonathan is dying of AIDS. This far-from-tranquil tale of voyages-both geographical and emotional-weaves together the alternating voices of its four main characters. Though Russell sometimes seems unsure whether it is Allen's or Jonathan's story he is trying to tell, he presents a compelling chronicle of the fracturing of an American family. For general collections.-Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

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