Luminous Airplanes: A Novel

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Luminous Airplanes: A Novel

by Paul La Farge

Farrar, Straus And Giroux | September 27, 2011 | Hardcover

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A decade after the publication of Haussmann, or the Distinction, his acclaimed novel about nineteenth-century Paris, Paul La Farge turns his imagination to America at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

In September 2000, a young programmer comes home from a fes­tival in the Nevada desert and learns that his grandfather has died, and that he has to return to Thebes, a town which is so isolated that its inhabitants have their own language, in order to clean out the house where his family lived for five generations. While he’s there, he runs into Yesim, a Turkish American woman whom he loved as a child, and begins a romance in which past and present are dangerously confused. At the same time, he remembers San Francisco in the wild years of the Internet boom, and mourns the loss of Swan, a madman who may have been the only person to understand what was happening to the city, and to the world.

Luminous Airplanes has a singular form: the novel, complete in itself, is accompanied by an online “immersive text,” which continues the story and complements it. Nearly ten years in the making, La Farge’s ambitious new work considers large worlds and small ones, love, mem­ory, family, flying machines, dance music, and the end of the world.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 256 pages, 8.51 × 5.88 × 0.95 in

Published: September 27, 2011

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374194319

ISBN - 13: 9780374194314

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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– More About This Product –

Luminous Airplanes: A Novel

by Paul La Farge

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 256 pages, 8.51 × 5.88 × 0.95 in

Published: September 27, 2011

Publisher: Farrar, Straus And Giroux

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0374194319

ISBN - 13: 9780374194314

About the Book

Luminous Airplanes" has a singular form: the novel, complete in itself, is accompanied by an online immersive text, which continues the story and complements it. Nearly 10 years in the making, La Farge's ambitious new work considers large worlds and small ones, love, memory, family, flying machines, dance music, and the end of the world. 256 pp. 15,000 print.

Read from the Book

Luminous Airplanes ONE CONTACT WITH OTHER WORLDS I had just come home from a festival in Nevada, the theme of which was Contact with Other Worlds, when my mother, or, I should say, one of my mothers, called to tell me that my grandfather had died. "I''ve been trying to reach you for days," she said. "Where were you?" I told her I''d been camping. I didn''t tell her I was at a pagan celebration where people danced around bonfires, a kind of dress rehearsal for the end of the world. I didn''t mention the huge glowing fish or the women with wings. Celeste told me that my grandfather had died on Thursday morning, around the time when I was leaving San Francisco in my friends'' big white RV. My uncle Charles found him collapsed at his desk. He''d had a heart attack, the doctor said. His death was quick and probably not painful. "That''s good," I said, still dazed from the drugs I''d taken at the festival and the nights I''d gone without sleep. "When is the funeral?" "It was this morning." "You had it without me?" "We couldn''t wait," Celeste said in the tone of voice sheuses when eliding facts that might put her in the wrong. "Marie is closing an issue and she has to go back to work." Marie is Celeste''s twin sister: by birth Marie Celeste, as Celeste was by birth Celeste Marie: another story. She works for S, a women''s magazine. "But," I began to protest, but Celeste wasn''t finished catching me up on what I''d missed. "We''re going to sell the house," she said. "Do you want any
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From the Publisher

A decade after the publication of Haussmann, or the Distinction, his acclaimed novel about nineteenth-century Paris, Paul La Farge turns his imagination to America at the dawn of the twenty-first century.

In September 2000, a young programmer comes home from a fes­tival in the Nevada desert and learns that his grandfather has died, and that he has to return to Thebes, a town which is so isolated that its inhabitants have their own language, in order to clean out the house where his family lived for five generations. While he’s there, he runs into Yesim, a Turkish American woman whom he loved as a child, and begins a romance in which past and present are dangerously confused. At the same time, he remembers San Francisco in the wild years of the Internet boom, and mourns the loss of Swan, a madman who may have been the only person to understand what was happening to the city, and to the world.

Luminous Airplanes has a singular form: the novel, complete in itself, is accompanied by an online “immersive text,” which continues the story and complements it. Nearly ten years in the making, La Farge’s ambitious new work considers large worlds and small ones, love, mem­ory, family, flying machines, dance music, and the end of the world.

About the Author

Paul La Farge is the author of two novels: The Artist of the Missing (FSG, 1999) and Haussmann, or the Dis­tinction (FSG, 2001); and a book of imaginary dreams, The Facts of Win­ter. His short stories have appeared in McSweeney’s, Harper’s Magazine, Fence, Conjunctions, and elsewhere. His nonfiction appears in The Believer, Bookforum, Playboy, and Cabinet. He lives in upstate New York.

Editorial Reviews

“ Luminous Airplanes turns out to be one of the best 9/11 novels I’ve read, not least because it is such an understated—almost unstated—addition to the genre. The terrorist attacks go unmentioned until its final pages, yet everything in it tends in the direction of that day: the implicit future trajectory of the flying machine; the Millerites’ obsession with the end of the world; the tension in Thebes between European-Americans and the Middle Eastern Regenzeits; the description of September weather; La Farge’s meditation on postmodernity’s impermanence . . . Luminous Airplanes isn’t about disconnection and meaninglessness. It is about connection and significance—about the way the past becomes the future, the contingent the inevitable, the spandrel the success, the success the tragedy. It is, in other words, about the ramifying, mysterious ways we human beings affect each other, from parent to child, invention to invention, generation to generation.” —Kathryn Schulz, The New York Times Book Review “La Farge tells his tale of homecoming compassionately but without sentimentality. He has a knack for delivering details as if the reader had already accepted them and was welcoming each discursion freely. Rather than submitting to the darkness of the sleeping bag that is modern fiction, La Farge encourages his readers to search the sky for the signs that herald the return of loved ones we’ve lost. The sear
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