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The Constant Heart Hardcover – September 11, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Counterpoint; First Edition edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1619020238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1619020238
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,385 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for The Constant Heart

“…An evocative family yarn…Nova has again produced expertly drawn characters and carefully measured, suspenseful prose with some surprises, all with undertones orbiting around Einstein’s cosmological constant theory of relativity.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred)

"[A] psychologically intriguing and richly metaphorical plot is irradiated by rhapsodic visions of celestial forces and earthy glory and trouble. A heart-jolting yet solicitous tale fueled by Nova’s passionate reminder that not all men are brutes."—Booklist

"Of the writers writing in America today, [Nova] is one of the very greatest. [The Constant Heart is] a book of excellence worthy of our approval and support."—Michael Silverblatt, "Bookworm"

“Honor, destiny, caprice, oblivion — Nova's novel parlays them all into a life-and-death struggle filled with moments (a surreal appliance-store holdup, a good-guys/bad-guys chase across the wilds of upstate New York) that feel as elemental as they are revealing of human foible and character.” —The Seattle Times

"[A] meditative, philosophical, and beautifully realized novel about the nature of embattled American manhood. Both Jake and his father are deeply sympathetic characters, and Nova celebrates perhaps most fundamentally here the compassionate and honorable way they treat the women in their lives…discussions of Einstein's theory of relativity are interspersed throughout the novel, providing a fascinating thematic element related to the search for something constant in a world defined by change and instability. This is a novel of deep maturity and thoughtfulness.” —Library Journal

“Superb in prose and its evocations of character and nature, The Constant Heart is a wonderful novel by a writer whose range continues to dazzle me. As a writer, I marveled at the pure scope of Nova's gifts as a storyteller. As a reader, I simply enjoyed my ride through the emotional heart of this affecting novel.” —Oscar Hijuelos

About the Author

Craig Nova is the award-winning author of twelve novels and one autobiography. His writing has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Men's Journal, among others. He has received an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2005 he was named Class of 1949 Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

More About the Author

Craig Nova is the award-winning author of twelve novels and one autobiography. His latest novel is THE INFORMER, a literary thriller set in 1930s Berlin.

Nova's writing has appeared in Esquire, The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Men's Journal, among others. He has received an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2005 he was named Class of 1949 Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

"Craig Nova is a fine writer, one of our best," writes Jonathan Yardley, book critic for the Washington Post. "If you haven't read him, the loss is yours." "He's a novelist who has yet to write a supermarket bestseller...but he has written at least two American classics that will likely resonate after his death, the way the poor-selling 'Great Gatsby' did for poor ol' F. Scott Fitzgerald," writes David Bowman of Salon.com.

Nova's life has been a plethora of experience, almost like something straight out of Hollywood -- where Nova, coincidence or not, was raised. From rebellious and alienated youth in the Hollywood Hills to graduation from University of California at Berkeley during the turbulent 1960s; from starving artist years in New York City to a placid and content writing life in more rustic parts, Nova's rich experience has made him "an artist in full command," as Yardley says.

Raised during the Golden Age of Hollywood, Nova was unfazed by the star-studded environment of his childhood. "Like all kids, I thought that my immediate surroundings were perfectly natural and that the whole world was just like Hollywood," says Nova. "In fact, I think my entire life has been spent correcting this misperception, or at least realizing that there is a difference between the way things appear and the way they really are.

"I remember playing with Jayne Mansfield's daughter when I was about eight, and racing Steve McQueen on Mulholland when I was 16," recounts Nova. As a teenager, he attended the famed and celebrity saturated Hollywood High. There he, with most of the Mouseketeers as classmates, lived out his share of youthful rebellion.

Nova made up for those minor transgressions by being a diligent student at the University of California at Berkeley, from which he graduated just weeks before the Summer of Love. "When I was there, someone in the state senate stood up and said, 'A course at Berkeley is a course in sex, drugs, and treason.' I have to say he was damn right."

After graduation, Nova moved to New York City and attended Columbia University, where his writing ambitions flourished. There at Columbia, he met Jean Stafford, a profound influence who introduced him to "the writing life." Upon publishing his first book, Turkey Hash in 1975, Nova won the Harper Saxton prize, putting him in the ranks of such esteemed writers as Sylvia Plath and James Baldwin. "I assumed that when it was published, it would change my life," he says, "Of course, not a lot happened. I ended up driving a taxicab in New York."

The years between Nova's first and third novel found him struggling, not only to write, but also to survive. He worked a variety of odd jobs constantly balancing attempts to support himself with his writing endeavors. In addition to driving a cab, his diverse experiences included carpentering in SoHo and managing a small real estate empire. "There were some very hard times here, going hungry, ending up on the street, broke," Nova recollects. "I find it hard to remember the will it took to go on writing under those circumstances."

During Nova's early years in New York City, he met his wife Christina at a party. Describing their first encounter in his memoir Brook Trout and the Writing Life, Nova writes, "Like all chance meetings that turn out differently than one supposes, I almost did not go to this party." To get away from the city, he and Christina would venture up to her small house in the country on weekends with increasing frequency. Christina gave him his first fly rod, with which he caught a brook trout during one of their escapades to the house. The brook trout, then merely a fish, would go on to reappear throughout Nova's life, serving as a powerful link between intimate events and, eventually, giving the title to his memoir. Of his and Christina's decision to wed, he writes, "We planned to get married, and then we did."

Nova's fourth book, The Good Son, received a substantial advance from the publisher and met almost universal critical acclaim. When the young couple decided to leave New York City for a more serene life in the country, Christina quit her job at CBS, where she had been working in television news. "I managed the land as a tree farm, and I have to say this was one of the most happy times in my life," Nova recalls. "I'd write in the morning and then work in the woods in the afternoons. And when I saw something in the woods, bears, deer, rugged grouse, foxes, they found a way into the book I was writing."

After having two daughters, Craig and Christina moved to Vermont, where their kids went to school and he went on to write another five or six novels. "This was a lovely time, too, in that I would write in the morning and afternoon, and then cook for the children and Christina. Idyllic, in a way, but the difficulty of course is the nature of the writing life," Nova says. "You are either on your way up or on your way down and this endlessly changing prospect made for a continual uneasiness."

During this time, Nova worked on magazine assignments to fulfill his dreams of going to places he'd wanted to see and picked up plenty of inspiration along the way: "I went to the equatorial Pacific, went fly fishing in Austria and on the San Juan River, flew with bush pilots...all of which came in handy in the writing of novels." He wrote screenplays for Touchstone Pictures and Behavior, a Canadian company.

"When my children went away to college, I realized that I had some extra time on my hands," says Nova. "I thought it would be a good idea to share some of what I had learned after those years alone in a room." In 2005 he was offered an endowed chair at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and accepted. There, he serves as 1949 Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.

Nova writes for Esquire, The Paris Review, The New York Times Magazine, and Men's Journal, among others. He has received an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and is a recipient of a Guggenheim award. He and Christina live in North Carolina.

As for the brook trout, Nova writes, "these fish are forever associated in my mind with the depths of thankfulness for good fortune, just as they always reminded me of beauty and a sense of what may be possible after all." He continues to fish for brook trout.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. Dawson on December 26, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First-person narrator Jake is an astronomer and professor at a university in upstate New York. This novel is his story of his relationship with Sara, a rebellious and lost woman Jake first fell in love with as a teenager. This is also the story of Jake's relationship with his saintly but passive father. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem, Jake and his father go fishing. They pack their gear, park the car at the trailhead, and hike ten miles up the Furnace Creek to find the best fly fishing spots. Jake and his father encounter many difficult problems, including infidelity, near-fatal experiences, and cancer, but they always find solace in the Creek and in each other's company.

The Constant Heart is a philosophical novel about dignity and fidelity and what it means to be a truly good person. It's also about difficult relationships and flawed people and how to survive in a morally bankrupt world without succumbing to the pressure to compromise. Jake views his world through his knowledge of astronomy, giving the novel an otherworldly haze. I was captivated by Craig Nova's beautiful, constrained prose and by his female characters, which contained so much more vigor than the male characters. I liked this novel enough to buy another novel by Nova. (Thanks for the recommendation Michael Silverblatt!)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Richard Roth on April 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Extraordinarily moving and articulate. Describes complex emotions with clinical precision, and creates indelible characters, part Bellow, part Hemingway. The romantic union of true wits and a father/son bond for the ages. Rocks you to the core.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer on December 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm so glad this novel is finally getting some attention. I saw the same mention of a year's end best books in The Guardian. When I saw absolutely no one had reviewed this book on Amazon it made me leary. But I'm so glad I read it. I've read Mr. Nova's books in this past and this stands up with his best work. I really hope the world hasnt't given up on literate fiction like this. It is like an Updike and a Cheever and an O'Hara novel. It has some of Diokey's Deliverance in their too. But Nova is an original and his female characters in this book will break your heart. Loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By scott saalman on June 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading a novel that I stumbled upon in the library last week, The Constant Heart, by Craig Nova. It's the best book I have read in a very long time. It's always a wonderful feeling to have a writer you never knew a week before become one of your favorite writers a week later. This is why I read; this is why I try to write.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bill Petillo on January 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Occasionally you will buy a book and then not like it. Perhaps the first pages were misleading. Perhaps you liked other books by the author. Perhaps you were swayed by glowing reviews. It happens. But this is the first time I feel like I have been cheated and deserve my money back.

Events in the story defy belief. Don't believe me? Try this one. A man goes into a car dealership. He does not want to buy a car. He just needs a friendly ear to talk about his desperate need for a kidney. Oh wait, the sales person has one behind the desk. I kid you not.

How about running into a girl friend and an armed robber simultaneously? How about the urban bad guys following the good guys deeper and deeper into the wilderness for no apparent reason. How about dumping a corpse into an abandoned well, then realizing that you left the car keys in their pocket.

Oh, and relationships. There are two women in the story. One must have great smelling hair because it is mentioned so much, but has spent a lifetime making one bad decision after another. The other is a cardboard cutout who leaves her husband and son to smoke dope in an ashram. Wait, there was a third woman, a Fascist librarian.

I read one or two books a week. This is by the far the worst piece of trash I've read in years.
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