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What to Read: Aloft by Chang-rae Lee

Aloft is the story of Jerry Battle, a man who has always managed to remain unscathed by life. As his 60th birthday approaches, though, he's finding it increasingly difficult to remain above the mess and tragedy of existence. Chang-rae Lee won awards and acclaim with his first two novels, Native Speaker and A Gesture Life. Now, he builds upon those achievements to offer a magnificently rendered, powerfully affecting portrait of a middle-aged man's coming-of-age. Poetic and plainspoken, uplifting and devastating, Aloft is a quietly amazing novel…

Lee says that Aloft was his easiest novel to write: "I just flowed along on Jerry's drafts." In fact, it was in a plane, hovering the "perfect distance" above the ground, that Lee found Jerry's voice, an authentic New York mix of working-class bluntness and unexpected poetry. The rhythm of Jerry's language is as plain and solid as footsteps on concrete, but with surprising flashes of beauty and erudition.


February 29, 2004 | Permalink


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