Summary and book reviews of The Age of Perpetual Light by Josh Weil

The Age of Perpetual Light

by Josh Weil

The Age of Perpetual Light by Josh Weil
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  • Published:
    Sep 2017, 240 pages

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Book Summary

A dazzling new work that spans a century and eight tales of light, human progress, and the search for a better life from Josh Weil, one of "the most gifted writers of his generation" (Colum McCann), winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters

Following his debut Dayton Literary Peace Prize-winning novel, The Great Glass Sea, Josh Weil brings together stories selected from a decade of work in a stellar new collection. Beginning at the dawn of the past century, in the early days of electrification, and moving into an imagined future in which the world is lit day and night, The Age of Perpetual Light follows deeply-felt characters through different eras in American history: from a Jewish dry goods peddler who falls in love with an Amish woman while showing her the wonders of an Edison Lamp, to a 1940 farmers' uprising against the unfair practices of a power company; a Serbian immigrant teenage boy in 1990's Vermont desperate to catch a glimpse of an experimental satellite, to a back-to-the-land couple forced to grapple with their daughter's autism during winter's longest night.         

Brilliantly hewn and piercingly observant, these are tales that speak to the all-too-human desire for advancement and the struggle of wounded hearts to find a salve, no matter what the cost. This is a breathtaking book from one of our brightest literary lights.

Excerpt
The Age of Perpetual Light

I'm behind the barn, splitting burnwood, when I see the bear coming for our daughter. It's December, dusk. At my back: high piles of cut rounds. Out in the field: the bucked trees stacked, their drag marks dark in all the snow, the pines looking almost black beyond. And between their trunks: a patch of true black moving. Everything else is still—the stone wall, the glass greenhouse, the sledding hill behind our home, packed hard by the weight of my wife and daughter gone down run after run—except a spot of orange: Orly in her snowsuit. Rolling snow boulders. Down by the old stone wall at the edge of the woods. Beneath the splitter's rumble, the shaking of the pine boughs is a silent ripple washing steadily towards her.

For a second I can feel her in my hands—the heft of her when I first pick her up, my arms strained with her struggling—and then it's just the log again and Orly is out there, suddenly standing ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Weil's stories have the scope and detours of longer work, and often seem to move on their own, following the protagonists' unpredictable lives. The breadth of subject matter and styles is impressive, defying easy categorization and making the stories all the more memorable.

Library Journal

Starred Review. The characters and settings are crafted with an ethereal skill that sets the mind spinning into new orbits ... Highly recommended for the discerning reader.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Weil's stories are engrossing, persuasively detailed, and written with a deep affection for the way language can, in masterful hands, convey us to marvelous new worlds.

Author Blurb Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
How much wattage does it take to illuminate the darkest corners of the human heart? In eight complex, luminous and light bearing stories, and with endless compassion for his superbly drawn characters, Josh Weil has the audacity to ask such a question, knowing full well that the answer may be: more than we have ever, or will ever have.

Author Blurb Ron Carlson
Josh Weil is a lamplighter, the best possible kind. He moves us into each of these earthy, elegant stories and suddenly the light changes in ways we couldn't have imagined. The Age of Perpetual light is a special book woven with generosity and grit as it works against the dark to take the true measure of kinship.

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