Fires on

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BOOKS | LIFE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in New York

In his lat­est novel, Moon­glow, au­thor and Pulitzer Prize win­ner Michael Chabon aims for the moon and suc­cess­fully touches down on the lu­nar sur­face af­ter a jour­ney that leaps across the decades, the story span­ning South Philadel­phia in the 1930s, Europe rav­aged by World War II and the post­war Amer­ica of the space pro­gram, be­fore retirement to South Florida.

The story is told through mem­o­ries passed down to Mike, the nar­ra­tor, by his mother’s father. Suf­fer­ing from bone can­cer and high on painkillers, Mike’s grand­fa­ther re­veals “a record of his mis­ad­ven­tures, his am­bigu­ous luck, his feats and fail­ures of tim­ing and nerve”. The grand­mother’s psy­chotic episodes — in­volv­ing fires and fan­tasy; dis­ap­pear­ances and delu­sions — push Mike’s grand­fa­ther to the limit as he strug­gles to keep the fam­ily in­tact.

Cross­ing con­ti­nents and time it­self, the story arcs from the search for the sci­en­tist who led the Nazi pro­gram to build the V-2 rock­ets that ter­ror­ized Bri­tain dur­ing the war.

At the cen­ter of the story is the lov­ing but tor­tured re­la­tion­ship be­tween the nar­ra­tor’s grand­par­ents. They met in post­war Bal­ti­more and their mar­riage bonds suf­fer from the wife’s trau­matic wartime ex­pe­ri­ences in Ger­man-oc­cu­pied France in the form of hal­lu­ci­na­tions and act­ing out.

With Moon­glow you get what you ex­pect from Chabon: an emo­tional tale of love and loss; fab­u­lous — at times mag­i­cal — writ­ing; and a story rooted in re­al­world events told from a unique per­spec­tive.

Moon­glow floats through time and space and fires its rock­ets when re­quired; to blast from Earth’s grav­ity, to main­tain course, to tra­verse the uni­verse, to carry the reader to a fas­ci­nat­ing new world.

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