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Aberration of Starlight
     

Aberration of Starlight

by Gilbert Sorrentino
 

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Set at a boardinghouse in rural New Jersey in the summer of 1939, this novel revolves around four people who experience the comedies, torments and rare pleasures of family, romance and sex while on vacation from Brooklyn and the Depression. Billy Recco, an eager ten-year-old in search of a father . . . Marie Recco, nèe McGrath, an attractive divorcèe caught

Overview

Set at a boardinghouse in rural New Jersey in the summer of 1939, this novel revolves around four people who experience the comedies, torments and rare pleasures of family, romance and sex while on vacation from Brooklyn and the Depression. Billy Recco, an eager ten-year-old in search of a father . . . Marie Recco, nèe McGrath, an attractive divorcèe caught between her son and father, without a life of her own . . . John McGrath, dignified in manner yet brutally soured by life, insanely fearful of his daughter's restlessness . . . Tom Thebus, a rakish salesman who precipitates the conflict between Marie's hopes and her father's wrath.
We follow these individuals through the events of thirty-six hours, culminating in Tom's disastrous near seduction of Marie. As the novel's perspective shifts to each of these characters, four discrete stories take form, stories that Sorrentino further enriches by using a variety of literary methods—fantasies, letters, a narrative question-and-answer, fragments of dialogue and memory. Strong and unforgettable, each voice is compelling in itself, yet in the end is only part of a complex, painful pattern in which dreams go unfulfilled and efforts unrewarded.
What emerges is a sure understanding of four people who are occasionally ridiculous, but whose integrity and good intentions are consistently, and tragically, frustrated. Combining humor and feeling, balancing the details and the rhythms of experience, Aberration of Starlight re-creates a time and a place as it captures the sadness and value of four lives. It is widely considered one of Sorrentino's finest novels.

"Wonderfully entertaining. . . . Mr. Sorrentino's imagination is rich and fine." (New York Times Book Review)

"Brave and fascinating . . . insidiously affecting." (New York Review of Books)

"Begins with laughter . . . ends in tears . . . by turns funny, sexy, and sad." (Saturday Review)

"Lively with narrative ingenuity—yet right to the heart of ordinary life." (Philip Roth)

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The daring format devised by poet-novelist Sorrentino creates striking effects here, helping him to bare the realities behind the postures of vacationers at a New Jersey resort during the 1930s. (July)
From the Publisher

The daring format devised by poet-novelist Sorrentino creates striking effects here, helping him to bare the realities behind the postures of vacationers at a New Jersey resort' -Publishers Weekly

Dalkey Archive Press

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140058796
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/28/1981
Series:
Contemporary American Fiction Series
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

In addition to his books of poetry and criticism, Gilbert Sorrentino is the author of fourteen novels, including Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things, The Sky Changes, and Mulligan Stew. He has received numerous grants and awards throughout his career, including the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, two Guggenheim Fellowships, two NEA Fellowships and a Lannan Literary Award.

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