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Aloft Paperback – March 1, 2005
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Jerry Battle, 59-year-old widower and father of two, retired from the family business--the unmistakably earthbound Battle Brothers Brick and Mortar--buys a small airplane because "From up here, a half mile above the Earth, everything looks perfect to me." All is not well below. Jerry knows it, saying
...the recurring fantasy of my life... is one of perfect continuous travel, this unending hop from one point to another, the pleasures found not in the singular marvels of any destination but in the constancy of serial arrivals and departures, and the comforting companion knowledge that youll never quite get intimate enough for any trouble to start brewing.
His view from aloft saves him from the gritty reality of the detritus of life--and from life itself.
This high-flyer must come to earth, however, when he finds that his daughter is newly pregnant, diagnosed with cancer, and refusing treatment; his son, who is running the company, has piled up enough debt that bankruptcy is imminent; and his father has gone missing from his assisted living facility. Jerry can no longer say, with impunity, "Jerry Battle hereby declines the Real." Lee takes us on great side trips into the pleasures of food and recreational sex; his wife Daisy's death; his longtime lover Rita's almost endless patience, weaving long, Miltonic sentences that start in one place and end up miles away--flights of fancy--trailing clouds of insight and poignancy. With Aloft Lee just keeps getting better. --Valerie Ryan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
By focusing on character, especially that of Jerry, rather than plot, and telling the story from Jerry's point of view, author Lee has created enormous challenges for himself. He must engage the reader's interest in a man who is not really interested in much of anything--a man who does not see family emergencies as the dramatic and heart-wrenching events that they would be to other people and who has no real interest in changing. So successful is the depiction of Jerry's phlegmatic point of view that the reader, too, may not see these events as very compelling or dramatic until Jerry himself starts to respond to them. Yet Lee's novel succeeds in its characterization.Read more ›
His children also don't seem to know what to do with him. His son, Jack, is a solid guy who is married to an All-American blonde named Eunice, has two children and lives in a ridiculously over-decorated house they can't quite afford. Jack is running the family business into the ground but neglects to discuss this with Jerry directly. Theresa, who is by far a more colorful and interesting character, is Jerry's daughter. She is an overeducated professor, also cursed with thinking too much, and is engaged to Paul, an Asian-American poet who has a serious case of writer's block. Theresa calls her father by his first name and adamantly refuses treatment when she finds out she is simultaneously pregnant and has cancer.
All of this is compounded by the fact that Jerry unintentionally befriends strangers --- such as the couple who sell him his airplane --- but is removed from those he loves the most. Truth be told, everyone thinks Jerry is lazy and aloof.Read more ›
"Aloft" is about Jerry's journey back to the ground, and whether he lands safely or crashes and burns. Jerry is a delightful protagonist, wittier and smarter than he gives himself credit for. He's not exactly a "nice" guy, but he's decent. He knows how to fight hard and strong for things that he ultimately finds irrelevant, but can't find the right words when it's something that matters. His gradual realization, as he approaches his 60th birthday, is that what he really wants out of life is to start over, but he soon learns that such opportunities always come with a cost.
Chang-Rae Lee deftly captures the language of family members who don't really communicate with each other. And the characters ring true, from Jack's dull son Jack, hyper-intellectual daughter Theresa, and elderly sexist blowhard of a father, all of the characters feel natural and at home in Jerry's going-through-the-motions life.
But ultimately it's Jerry's point-of-view that makes the book work. He's fascinated with race - not racist, mind you, just finds it noteworthy. He's prone to self-reflexion, but not actually acting on his observations.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There are moments of laughter where you just have to laugh out loud at the situations. Then there are times of heart-rending, tearful sadness. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Lea Darwin
When reading "Aloft," you can tell that Chang-rae Lee is mighty proud of himself in his long-winded, Princeton-groomed prose. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Read morePublished 7 months ago by M. Diaz
Chang-rae Lee finds a common place within a diverse family of Italian, Asian American and Puertico Rican, and takes us there as if that was the natural evolution all along.Published 23 months ago by Na Qu
I picked up Chang-rae Lee's Aloft after reading one of his newer books and hearing that his older books were even better. Read morePublished on June 21, 2014 by Joseph Landes
Don't read this book if your interest is only in aviation. Lee is not writing a book about flying. Lee's pilot protagonist is more Aloof than Aloft, but don't let this discourage... Read morePublished on April 2, 2014 by RiffRaffAK
THE MAIN CHARACTER IS A MAN THAT HAS NOT COME TO TERMS WITH HIMSELF, HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH HIS SIGNIFICANT OTHER AND LIFE ITSELF. Read morePublished on October 13, 2012 by audrey s hagedorn
On reading this novel I was constantly reminded of the lyrics from Pink Floyd's 'Learning to Fly' - marvellous words that perfectly capture the magic of flying, aloft from the... Read morePublished on October 4, 2012 by Kiwiflora
I expected to enjoy Aloft more than I did, based on my read of Chang Rae Lee's Native Speaker (which was a wonderful). Read morePublished on October 23, 2011 by J. Kim
I found this book very hard to get into and read. It had potential - and then the author wasted so much time with (for me) insignificant details. Read morePublished on November 14, 2010 by Kathi