Aberration of Starlight by Gilbert Sorrentino

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Synopsis

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, ne McGrath, an attractive divorce 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 methodsfantasies, 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.

 

About Gilbert Sorrentino

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Writer, critic and Stanford University professor Gilbert Sorrentino was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1929. He attended Brooklyn College until he served in the US Army Medical Corps. After his two years in the Army, he returned to Brooklyn College to finish his degree. Sorrentino founded and edited the literary magazine Neon. He also was an editor for Kulcher magazine and Grove Press. Sorrentino has earned two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Lannan Literary Award, and the 2005 Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award. He died on May 18, 2006.
 
Published January 1, 1980 by NY: Random House,.
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Aberration of Starlight

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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

May 31 1993 | Read Full Review of Aberration of Starlight