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The Last Flight of Poxl West

by Daniel Torday

The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday X
The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday
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  • Published Mar 2015
    304 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 23 member reviews
for The Last Flight of Poxl West
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  • Florence K. (Northridge, CA)
    The Last Flight of Poxl West
    A luminous book, well worth reading! Poxl West is a complex, conflicted, troubled man, yet is a fascinating character. His interactions with his "nephew" are charming and lend a note of lightness to an otherwise serious story.
    The book deals with love and loss, truth and fabrication, bravery and fear, and the onerous burden of guilt. Perhaps because I lived through World War II, I thought the author, using beautifully chosen words, painted vivid tableaux of wartime life of both fighting forces and civilians under constant siege. I keep thinking about this book long after I have finished reading it.
  • Patricia L. (Seward, AK)
    "Many people just assumed from listening to his confident tone that my uncle Poxl knew what he was talking about." Thus Daniel Torday begins to weave his story of an impressionable teen and the adventures of a good friend of his deceased grandfather who he calls uncle. Torday intersperses the narration of the nephew recounting his adventures with Uncle Poxl with the memoirs written by Poxl himself. While the core of the story deals with Poxl's relationships during the war, the war itself and the young nephew's perception of his uncle, the heart of the book explores the role of stories in the retelling of history, the meaning of love, and who are heroes and why. This may sound like a monumental undertaking but Torday handles it well. His prose is quick and pointed and the action moves fluidly. Yet in the midst of it all he writes a thought that requires rereading and contemplation. "…I do not know if a conversation like this is what it is to be in love—to disagree but to stay around and find out why, so it is no longer a disagreement. To do something so simple as to talk honestly, and then to listen. But I do know it's what it means to begin to know someone: confession, revelation, reconciliation." The Last Flight of Poxl West should probably be read twice, once to learn the story of a young man learning about the past while being taught life lessons and again for the truisms, fortunate and un, that are part of all of our histories. Recommended for those who understand that fiction isn't necessarily untrue.
  • Arden A. (Longboat Key, FL)
    The Last Flight of Poxl West
    Uncle Poxl is a complicated man. He lived his life in the past, forever regretful for fleeing relationships just when he needed to not. Elijah Goldstein is an adolescent significantly influenced by the time the two of them spent together in his youth, and the stories he told. It gets more complicated when Poxl writes a memoir of his experience as a Jewish pilot during WWII that is subsequently debunked as inaccurate, and Poxl leaves Elijah's life in shame. There are frequent references to Shakespeare's works that are interwoven with events that take place throughout the novel, and the author's choice of words had me reaching for the dictionary more than once.

    This is an excellent book, extremely well written, prompting me to order Daniel Torday's first book, The Sensualist.
  • Sandra H. (St. Cloud, MN)
    The Choices We Make
    Early in Daniel Torday's novel "The Last Flight of Poxl West," Francine, Poxl's lover says "Isn't it silly... the choices we make." Poxl's life story is concocted of choices. He writes three novels that are rejected by publishers. Then he writes the book that will make him famous. He tells his nephew Eli, "I told the story the best I could... I wrote the book I needed to write." And it is indeed a gripping story filled with choices that will haunt both Poxl and Eli the rest of their lives.

    As a young Jewish boy from Czechoslovakia, Poxl's life is filled with betrayals, with lovers, with working for the Civil Defense Department during the London Blitz and eventually flying for the RAF later in WWII. This part of the novel is filled with description so vivid that the reader can feel what it must have been like to be in London or on a bomber flying over Hamburg.

    After the war, Poxl moves to New York where he becomes a college professor and a the faux uncle to a young Eli, the only son of a family that recognizes how much each needs the other. Poxl introduces Eli to great art, the theatre, literature and his war memories. Eli adores this man. But eventually both he and Poxl must come to terms with reality, with who they are what made them who they become.

    The novel moves between Poxl's memoir and Eli's comments on their relationship. It is sweet and bittersweet and rich--a story that pulls you in. It is much more than a war narrative and a bildungsroman. In the end, you will lean back and think what it means to not only live your life but what it means to understand how live it.
  • Joan R. (Chicago, IL)
    A Big-Hearted Book That's Hard to Put Down
    This book has something for just about everyone and I highly recommend it. It weaves two narratives: the first, that of Eli Goldstein who looks back to his teen-age years and time spent with his adored "Uncle" Poxl. The second narrative is Poxl's memoir of his experiences as a Jewish RAF pilot in WWII. This is a war story, a love story, and a meditation on the stories we tell, most importantly, the stories we need to tell. The descriptions of war-torn London are riveting and unforgettable and the characters are as complex as those we meet in real life. The ending left me speechless.
  • Barbara K. (Brooklyn, NY)
    Beautifully Written
    This is a tale of loss, lies, betrayal, of trying to cope with life's difficulties, and trying to make sense of what life is 'dishing out' while making one's way into adulthood. It is told from the point of view of 2 young men growing up in different eras: a Czech Jewish teenager, Poxl, & Eli, a boy from Boston. One knows only war & the other, only peace.
    The writing, especially the imagery is superb. Also interesting is the use of Shakespearean characters to help illustrate people in Poxl's life.
    I recommend this book to all. There is much for book clubs to discuss. Also, high school students studying WWII might better appreciate this time period from the portrayal of Europe offered in these pages.
  • Mary M. (Dallas, TX)
    Lost Patina
    I sat down to read a chapter of "The Last Flight of Poxl West" and found I could not put it down. It is the stunning story of where the patina of what a young man believes is swept away to reveal the stunning truth of a broken hero. Make sure you have a lot of free time before beginning this novel.


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