Buchnummer des Verkäufers
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS' CHOICE
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
WINNER OF THE 2015 NATIONAL JEWISH BOOK AWARD /JJ GREENBERG MEMORIAL AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE 2017 SAMI ROHR PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 INTERNATIONAL DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD
FINALIST FOR THE 2015 WALLANT AWARD
A stunning debut novel from award-winning author Daniel Torday, in which a young man recounts his idolization of his Uncle Poxl, a Jewish, former RAF pilot, exploring memory, fame, and storytelling.
Poxl West fled the Nazis’ onslaught in Czechoslovakia. He escaped their clutches again in Holland. He pulled Londoners from the Blitz’s rubble. He wooed intoxicating, unconventional beauties. He rained fire on Germany from his RAF bomber.
Poxl West is the epitome of manhood and something of an idol to his teenage nephew, Eli Goldstein, who reveres him as a brave, singular, Jewish war hero. Poxl fills Eli’s head with electric accounts of his derring-do, adventures, and romances, as he collects the best episodes from his storied life into a memoir.
He publishes that memoir, Skylock, to great acclaim, and its success takes him on the road, and out of Eli’s life. With his uncle gone, Eli throws himself into reading his opus and becomes fixated on all things Poxl.
But as he delves deeper into Poxl’s history, Eli begins to see that the life of the fearless superman he’s adored has been much darker than Poxl let on, and filled with unimaginable loss from which he may have not recovered. As the truth about Poxl emerges, it forces Eli to face irreconcilable facts about the war he’s romanticized and the vision of the man he’s held so dear.
Daniel Torday’s debut novel, The Last Flight of Poxl West beautifully weaves together the two unforgettable voices of Eli Goldstein and Poxl West, exploring what it really means to be a hero, and to be a family, in the long shadow of war.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month for March 2015: The Last Flight of Poxl West is a memoir within a memoir within a novel. In other words, it tells the fictional story of a late 20th century teenage boy, Elijah Goldstein, who recounts the story of his uncle, Poxl West, who wrote a memoir about his years as an RAF pilot during WWII. (Poxl’s manuscript makes up half the book.) The way I said that, it sounds confusing. The way Torday wrote it, it’s perfectly clear: this is a story about a boy who loves his uncle who has for fifty years portrayed himself as a war hero, has in fact gotten famous for being a war hero (and writing about it) and who may or may not have been all the things he (and the boy) thought he was. It’s like two coming-of-age stories in one, in other words, and a wise and generous meditation on memory and aspiration and truth. Poxl himself (It’s a diminutive of a Czech name; the West was Anglicized from “Weisberg”) is like a John Irving character reimagined by Philip Roth – and Elijah, well, Elijah is every baseball-loving-son-of-immigrant-Jewish-parents you ever met in school. Not clichéd, just familiar. But if the characters are achingly, irresistibly familiar, the novel Torday has written about them is unusual and impressive; it’s a rollicking joy ride that leaves you breathlessly excited and a little sad, all at once. --Sara Nelson
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