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The Astral
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About the Author

Kate Christensen is the author of five previous novels, most recently Trouble. The Great Man won the 2008 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. She has written reviews and essays for numerous publica tions, most recently the New York Times Book Review, Bookforum, Tin House, Elle, and Open City. She lives in New York City.

Reviews

Like the rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn of its setting, Christensen's unremittingly wonderful latest (after Trouble) is populated by an odd but captivating mix of characters. At the center is Harry Quirk, a middle-aged poet whose comfortable life is upended one winter day when his wife, Luz, convinced he's having an affair, destroys his notebooks, throws his laptop from the window, and kicks him out. Things, Harry has to admit, are not going well: their idealistic Dumpster-diving daughter, Karina, is lonely and lovelorn, and their son, Hector, is in the grip of a messianic cult. Taking in a much-changed Greenpoint, Brooklyn, while working at a lumberyard and hoping to recover his poetic spark, Harry must come to terms with the demands of starting anew at 57. Astute and unsentimental, at once romantic and wholly rational, Harry is an everyman adrift in a changing world, and as he surveys his failings, Christensen takes a singular, genuine story and blows it up into a smart inquiry into the nature of love and the commitments we make, the promises we do and do not honor, and the people we become as we negotiate the treacherous parameters of marriage and friendship and parenthood. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

"Spectacular. . . . The Astral, artfully composed and emotionally tender, is evidence of true literary genius." -The Miami Herald

"Impossible to put down. . . . Harry Quirk, living up to his own name, is a gem." -The Oregonian

"The Astral is a work of art, a prose poem, and a finely told tale. . . . [A] tender, aching marvel of a book." -The Huffington Post

"An ode to Brooklyn and broken marriages, endings and beginnings, and the spaces in between." -The Boston Globe

"Christensen has somehow-again-created a captivatingly believable male narrator." -The Washington Post

"An object lesson on the current realist novel. . . . The Astral is structured as a journey-a poet's trip through an interior and exterior landscape-and Christensen manages each step with quiet deliberation." -The New York Times Book Review

"[Christensen's] characters' ruminations on how the forces of love and deception work in tandem within a relationship are both searing and concise. . . . [She] is a forceful writer whose talent is all over the page. Her prose is visceral and poetic, like being bludgeoned with an exquisitely painted sledgehammer. She is a portrait artist, drawing in miniature, capturing the light within." -San Francisco Chronicle

"A tart, compassionate story of marriage gone wrong." -O, The Oprah Magazine

"[A] sharp perceptive novel. . . . Christensen's The Astral is provoking and at times profoundly moving." -Associated Press

"Ah, urban beauty: Christensen gets what's funny about it, and also what's disappointing. She's a mischievous writer with a keen eye and ear for comedy, one who sets up precarious scenarios and then lets her characters hash things out." -The New York Observer

"[This] novel, by turns funny sad, and wise, is glittering with insightful and lovely descriptions, and Harry is so far my favorite fictional character of 2011: he's complicated, stubborn, smart, foolish, vulnerable, and-man oh man-does he feel real." -Edan Lepucki, The Millions

"The tinder for this fire lies in moments most often small: Kate Christensen doesn't fan the flames so much as reveal the embers as they spring to life. . . . Christensen's prose is clean and her characters enthralling. . . . The novel is a wonderful investigation of the pitfalls that arise in even the longest of marriages" -The Denver Post

"Harry Quirk . . . [is] an unexpectedly irresistible hero in this delicious social satire." -People

"The best exploration of a middle-aged man's psyche since Bellow, all the more brilliant for having been written by a woman." - Shelf Awareness (starred)

"Christensen is a gifted novelist who knows how to deliver the goods when it comes to ruefully funny, bittersweet character sketches."-Christian Science Monitor

"Christensen perfectly embodies the voice of a male poet in crisis, Harry Quirk. . . . Readers will be sucked into extremely realistic familial dramas while Christensen perfectly captures her Brooklyn backdrop-from dive bars to hipsters drinking overpriced coffee in trendy cafes." -BookPage

"As always in Christensen's writing, like it or not, the gritty human truths she reveals apply to us all. . . . Christensen is formidable when it comes to psychological observation. What truly sets her writing apart, however, are the disturbing, touching, confounding discrepancies she articulates between inner experience and external behavior, the compassion she brings to bear in her analysis of the fraught, misguided ways in which people interact." -The Brooklyn Rail

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