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The Constant Heart
     

The Constant Heart

4.5 2
by Craig Nova
 

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What does it mean to be a decent man? To love well, with fidelity and constancy? These are the lessons that Jake’s father, a wildlife biologist, tries to impart to his son, often on fishing trips to their beloved Furnace Creek. Bound up in the laws of Einstein’s theories, these lessons will ultimately influence Jake’s own career as an astronomer. Out

Overview

What does it mean to be a decent man? To love well, with fidelity and constancy? These are the lessons that Jake’s father, a wildlife biologist, tries to impart to his son, often on fishing trips to their beloved Furnace Creek. Bound up in the laws of Einstein’s theories, these lessons will ultimately influence Jake’s own career as an astronomer. Out on the creek, both father and son conquer their greatest challenges: marital infidelity, professional setbacks, and Jake’s long term, passionate obsession with his childhood crush.

The Constant Heart is a potent, and moving book that utilizes the laws of nature and science to illuminate what it means to be a man today. It is an inspiring book that most immediately celebrates the bonds of father and son while exploring the beauty and intensity of love and the profound attachments between human beings, even in the face of great disease and danger.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Nova’s latest effort is an evocative family yarn that follows a father and son at odds with each other’s morality and a wild-card woman pulling the strings. Jake, the novel’s capable 17-year-old narrator, is the son of mismatched parents, a New Age–obsessed mother and a faithless father, a wildlife biologist who spends his nights on the couch turning a blind eye to his wife’s infidelity. Life for Jake in rural northeastern New York becomes spiced with the brash, hard-knock life lessons taught by brazen outsider Sara McGill, the target of his unrequited crush. When a misguided attempt to deal drugs in a women’s prison is botched, Sara is arrested and the story fast forwards to find Jake as an astronomy teacher who is reunited with the devilish Sara when they both happen upon a Radio Shack that is being robbed, followed by a days-long, defining group fishing trip where crushing secrets and murderous intentions bubble to the surface. Nova (The Book of Dreams) has again produced expertly drawn characters and carefully measured, suspenseful prose with some surprises, all with undertones orbiting around Einstein’s cosmological constant theory of relativity. But it’s bad girl Sara who steals the show by sweeping everyone into her swirling cyclone of lethal predicaments while coquettishly insisting she “didn’t bring the plague to your house.” Agent: The Hendra Agency. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

Praise for The Constant Heart

“…An evocative family yarn…Nova has again produced expertly drawn characters and carefully measured, suspenseful prose with some surprises, all with undertones orbiting around Einstein’s cosmological constant theory of relativity.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred)

"[A] psychologically intriguing and richly metaphorical plot is irradiated by rhapsodic visions of celestial forces and earthy glory and trouble. A heart-jolting yet solicitous tale fueled by Nova’s passionate reminder that not all men are brutes."—Booklist

"Of the writers writing in America today, [Nova] is one of the very greatest. [The Constant Heart is] a book of excellence worthy of our approval and support."—Michael Silverblatt, "Bookworm"

“Honor, destiny, caprice, oblivion — Nova's novel parlays them all into a life-and-death struggle filled with moments (a surreal appliance-store holdup, a good-guys/bad-guys chase across the wilds of upstate New York) that feel as elemental as they are revealing of human foible and character.” —The Seattle Times

"[A] meditative, philosophical, and beautifully realized novel about the nature of embattled American manhood. Both Jake and his father are deeply sympathetic characters, and Nova celebrates perhaps most fundamentally here the compassionate and honorable way they treat the women in their lives…discussions of Einstein's theory of relativity are interspersed throughout the novel, providing a fascinating thematic element related to the search for something constant in a world defined by change and instability. This is a novel of deep maturity and thoughtfulness.” —Library Journal

“Superb in prose and its evocations of character and nature, The Constant Heart is a wonderful novel by a writer whose range continues to dazzle me. As a writer, I marveled at the pure scope of Nova's gifts as a storyteller. As a reader, I simply enjoyed my ride through the emotional heart of this affecting novel.” —Oscar Hijuelos

Library Journal
"Men are dogs—Maureen Dowd." This epigraph greets readers at the beginning of Nova's meditative, philosophical, and beautifully realized new novel about the nature of embattled American manhood. Nova (The Good Son; Tornado Alley) has built the novel around two very decent men—a father and his adult son, Jake—who share a deep emotional bond forged after Jake's mother leaves the family when he is a young boy. Both Jake and his father are deeply sympathetic characters, and Nova celebrates perhaps most fundamentally here the compassionate and honorable way they treat the women in their lives. Jake grows up to become a physicist, and discussions of Einstein's theory of relativity are interspersed throughout the novel, providing a fascinating thematic element related to the search for something constant in a world defined by change and instability. By the end of the novel, it becomes clear that the only constant available to us is "the constant heart" embodied by these two men. VERDICT This is a novel of deep maturity and thoughtfulness. Recommended for fans of serious literary fiction.—Patrick M. Sullivan, Manchester Community Coll., CT
Kirkus Reviews
From Nova (The Informer, 2010, etc.), another illustration, painted in noirish tints, that love is all we need. Jason Brady is the hero, father of the protagonist, Jake. Jake is an astronomer, and the constant of the title refers to both his father's virtue and to the Constant, a component of Einstein's Theory of Relativity. The book is set in upstate New York, in a small city devolving into a generic suburb of all-night pharmacies, auto parts stores and mini malls. Jake is in love with Sara, a cynic from a broken home. Together, they stare into space at pictures beamed back from the Hubble telescope. When cracks appear in Jake's home, his father is a rock, doing right even by those who wrong him. Jake escapes into academics. Sara, afflicted, falls into trouble. Returning to live near his father, Jake becomes reacquainted with Sara in an encounter of cable-ready cinematic mayhem--an absurd, even laughable moment. But the book gains momentum, as if Nova has come back to the monochrome country where he is most comfortable. Sara is in the thick of what rhymes with it, and she draws the two men out of their comfort zones and into her eccentric orbit. The exquisite, excruciating climax pits Sara's boorish pursuers against the Brady patriarch's implacable virtue. If the rest of the book were half as gripping as this adventure in the noir wilderness, it might be considered a classic. But the taut moments only make the execrable and the platitudinous more so. Wildly uneven, by turns cringe-worthy and hilarious, this is an uneventful trip to a worthy destination.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781619020986
Publisher:
Counterpoint Press
Publication date:
09/01/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
File size:
351 KB

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Meet the Author

Craig Nova is the award-winning author of twelve novels and one autobiography. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Men's Journal, among others. He has received an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2005 he was named Class of 1949 Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

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The Constant Heart (TENTATIVE) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
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