What People Are Saying About Luminous Airplanes

A Passage from Luminous Airplanes, or Things As They Were: A Hyperromance

“An open-ended, postmodern fable that somehow delivers the satisfaction of the novelistic conventions it subverts. […] Where so much experimental fiction seems pessimistic or even cynical about its possibilities, this novel sustains a spirit of innocence and wonder.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Brilliantly imagined, deft, subtle […] La Farge spins his tale with the grace of an acrobat and creates the thrill of watching a high-wire act when digressions begin to converge into a coherent story.”

Publishers Weekly (starred and boxed review)

“Like some kind of freakishly gifted Olympic ice skater, Paul La Farge skates gracefully through decades of time, tracing the through lines from childhood games to the dramas and disintegrating dreams of adulthood. This perfect figure 8 of a book links San Francisco’s tech boom to one nerdy kid’s quest to seduce a girl with a computer game to the quacky cul-de-sacs of early aeronautics history to sleepy 1980s upstate New York to the Millerites’ cosmic goof. Luminous Airplanes is a coming of age story like none other I’ve ever read, one that seems to exist simultaneously in the past and the present, in plausible futures and science-fictional realms. Luminous Airplanes is brilliant, poignant, startling, hilarious, and a really, really fun read.”

— Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia

“This is one of the best works of fiction to come my way in a long time. Paul La Farge writes beautifully, with wit, humor and passion. He has created as thoroughly imagined a world as you would expect from Chekhov or Flaubert, and has bestowed upon two fictional families enough sympathy and care to rank himself among the best of parents. Luminous Airplanes is a quiet triumph of a book.”

— Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story

“Paul La Farge’s novels have always been luminous, but in Luminous Airplanes his relentlessly sharp eye alights on our crazy present for the first time, knocking the new century against his strange and wondrous imagination.  The results inhabit a recognizable world that feels brave and new, a social history that feels like science fiction, and a wild story that you could swear happened to friends of yours.  It’s funny without sacrificing its serious intent; it’s ambitious without abandoning its intimate boundaries; it’s everything we want in a novel and quite a few things we hadn’t thought of until this moment.  I closed this book with a tiny little sadness that I’d never again get to experience it for the first time and an eagerness to read it again as soon as my brain could take a second shot.”

Daniel Handler, author of Why We Broke Up

“I loved everything about it, from the middle school agonies through the family stuff up to and including the town/country clashes. And of course, everything about the code, the code… What the triumph is, I think, is that you managed to flow through time and space so apparently effortlessly that it was as though you’d dreamed the narrator and everything that happens to him flawlessly, and in perfect sequence, and without ever digressing, even when narrator thinks he is because maybe time and memory in narrative logic are not so different from computer logic, and when everything happens in the right sequence, there’s only one logical place for it to end.”

— Kit Reed, author of Enclave

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