From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Byers (Long for This World
) offers a gloriously expansive view of Depression-era America, from the easy extravagance of the Boston Brahmins to hardscrabble rural life. At its core, this is the story of Clyde Tombaugh, an unassuming Kansas farm kid who achieves international fame for his discovery of Pluto. In addition to Clyde, there is the Harvard crowd that precedes him at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona: Alan Barber, a man of modest background who aspires to the effortless grace of his wealthy colleague, Dick Morrow, and has a crush on Dick's scholarly and daring girlfriend, Florence. Byers connects Clyde's story with a number of riveting and eventually interlinking subplots, among them an archeological dig run by the wealthy Felix DuPrie, who has turned his back on the family business to try his hand at unearthing dinosaur bones, and the touching tale of Edward Howe, a former professional boxer who pines after his gorgeous and troubled secretary, whose delusions are portrayed with an amazing sensitivity and realism. Between the faultless storytelling and the juicy historical hook, it looks like a hit. (Aug.)
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calculates the moral dimensions of scientific investigation, noted the Washington Post
. It is this "breadth of Byers's field of vision [that] is a saving grace." If Byers's technical descriptions and research slowed down a few critics, they agreed that his wide scope--he tells many stories, with his characters exhibiting all-too-human motives and emotions--is his greatest success. A few felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of subplots, and the Washington Post
thought that Byers's contemplative prose dulled an otherwise exciting tale. However, Byers' tale should be universally appealing--"just an endearing story of underdogs, both the ragtag crew of astronomers and the tiny celestial body they're hoping to find" (Entertainment Weekly