Critics have compared him to Proust, Pynchon, and Fred Astaire--an artful, slyly intelligent, wildly inventive observer of Americana. Now Eric Kraft has landed an ambitious comedy set both in our present and in an alternative 1950s universe--Flying.
It is the tail end of the 1950s, and in the town of Babbington, New York, a young dreamer named Peter Leroy has set out to build a flying motorcycle, using a design ripped from the pages of Impractical Craftsman magazine. This two-wheeled wonder will carry him not only to such faraway places as New mexico and the Summer Institute in Mathematics, Physics, and Weaponry, but deep into the heart of commercialized American culture, and return him to Babbington a hero. More than forty years later, as Babbington is about to rebuild itself as a theme park commemorating his historic flight, Peter must return home to set the record straight, and confess that his flight did not match the legend that it inspired.
Drawing together Eric Kraft's previously published Taking Off and On the Wing with the brand-new final part of the story, Flying Home, Flying is a buoyant comedy of remarkable wingspan, a hilarious story of hoaxes, digressions, do-it-yourself engineering, and the wilds of memory--and a great satire of magical thinking in America.
"Kraft's characters don't talk like people actually talk. They're more witty, more astute, and they express themselves with infinitely more pizazz. This is true even of Peter's winged steed, the charmingly anthropomorphized Spirit of Babbington, which may not be an ace at lifting off but proves a surprisingly excellent road buddy. The effect is like a happy-go-lucky Nabokov, with all the road-tripping wordplay and none of the incest. . . . On paper, a novel about hope, nostalgia, love, disillusionment, pataphysics and the science of lift might seem like a hopelessly overdetermined bucket of bolts, an aerodynamic impossibility. But Kraft's affectionately satirical, buoyant language makes Flying soar."--Radhika Jones, Time magazine
"Eric Kraft is an oddball, an eccentric, a bit of a genius--the writerly equivalent of a dreamer who puts together weird and wonderful contraptions in his garage. . . . Kraft plays the clown, but something essential and transformative is also at stake. . . . Flying abounds in . . . dizzying moments, writing that looks easy enough but in most writers' hands falls to Earth with a clunk and a thud. Kraft has made his career out of high-wire performance, seizing on the merest hint or detail and spinning it into magic. . . . For this writer there is no junk. Everything is grist in the mill of a transformative prose that sometimes can recall Proust or Nabokov, and at others the British humorists P. G. Wodehouse and J. B. Morton. . . . Flying, though episodic, has a pleasing coherence and sweep, and feels like Kraft's grandest achievement since Herb 'n' Lorna."--Richard Rayner, Los Angeles Times
"Once again, wizardly Kraft mixes boy-wonder high jinks with metaphysical musings, tall tales, and true love in a zany, heart-lifting escape from the everyday."--Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Hilarious. . . . Kraft's protagonist through twelve novels, the memoirist Peter Leroy, is both an egoist and an egotist who by all rights should be a crashing bore, but his curious idiosyncrasies, strange perspectives, and satirical wit render him fascinating. His ego is held somewhat in check by his wryly brilliant wife, Albertine, and their pithy, erudite conversations resemble those of a markedly hornier William Powell and Myrna Loy.”--Library Journal
"This delightful omnibus volume includes three novels: the previously published Taking Off and On the Wing and the never before published Flying Home, which completes the adolescent adventure of Kraft’s serial alter ego character Peter Leroy. . . . The finished trilogy is a trip not to be missed.”
"With Flying, Eric lighter-than-air Kraft barnstorms several miles above where most writers' imaginations dare to ascend."--Ed Park, author of Personal Days
"A hilarious and masterfully told tale."--St. Petersburg Times