The Aerialist by Richard Schmitt
A Novel (Sewanee Writers' Series)

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From an authentic American voice, a stunning, gritty tale of a young man's retreat into the darkly glamorous world of the circus.

Venice, Florida: On the edge of town sits the winter headquarters of a
traveling circus. One day Gary, a drifter, signs up for a job as a bullhand
with the circus.

Everyone has heard of the ringmaster, the trapeze artist, and the clown, but Gary soon learns that the circus includes others as well: the 24-hour man, the first to arrive in a town to poster the way to the circus grounds; the bullhands who remove elephant excrement from under the animals' bodies; the butchers who distract the audience from the circus spectacle selling them cotton candy or lemonade; the animal people who care for the animals and keep to themselves. Gary instantly falls in love with this new life, riding the circus train from one town to the next in the odd hours of the night.

This acclaimed debut tells of a hapless, magical existence-a life for which Richard Schmitt's characters have abandoned everything and nothing at all. In it, the circus unfolds as a wealth of human energy and ambition, and Schmitt emerges as a talent with a magical voice and a high-flying future.


About Richard Schmitt

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Schmitt is professor of philosophy at Brown University.
Published November 1, 2000 by Overlook Hardcover. 325 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Action & Adventure. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Aerialist

Publishers Weekly

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A high-wire act in more ways than one, this exhilarating novel by first-timer Schmitt tells the story of a restless young drifter who joins the circus and falls under its tarnished spell. Starting out

Oct 30 2000 | Read Full Review of The Aerialist: A Novel (Sewan...

Publishers Weekly

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Gary's first-person narrative meanders like a circus train, with stops for various sideshows: excerpts from a diary written by a woman who cooks for the performers, the point of view of a circus midget, and even a glimpse into the mind of Gary's dog.

| Read Full Review of The Aerialist: A Novel (Sewan...

Entertainment Weekly

Running away with the circus is one of our success-driven culture's most enduring escapist fantasies, and Gary, the errant narrator of Schmitt's first novel The Aerialist, would seem to be the ultimate escape artist: A committed ne'er-do-well, he carelessly reinvents himself as a roustabout after...

Dec 08 2000 | Read Full Review of The Aerialist: A Novel (Sewan...

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