A haunting, lyrical, indelible portrait of an ordinary man and his family, Aloft illuminates in an utterly fresh way what it means to be a father, husband, son, and lover. Chang-rae Lee's most mature, fully developed work to date, it is nothing less than a piercing and profound study of the American character.
Don't miss Chang-rae Lee and Edwidge Danticat at The New Yorker Festival.
©2004 Chang-rae Lee; (P)2004 Highbridge Company
"A truly moving story about a modern family." (Publishers Weekly)
"A fine and very moving performance." (Kirkus Reviews)
"The prose Chang-rae Lee writes is elliptical, riddling, poetic...beautifully made." (The New Yorker)
As a child whenever I questioned an adult's behavior which seemed peculiar to me, my grandmother would always say, "Live longer and you'll understand." This book, without a doubt, is for those of us who have lived "longer".
I'm certain that in my twenties this book would have bored me to tears. In my thirties and early forties, my interest would have been peaked, but I would have vehemently argued with the main character's viewpoint until I couldn't listen any more.
Yet, having "lived longer" I thoroughly enjoyed this audio book!! As well, the author has earned my deepest respect for his ability to tell a "complete" story and delve into the complexity of the stark realities which turn our lives upside down when we think we've seen and done it all.
If, you like me, think that your family falls under the current "dysfunctional" classification, then this is a book to give you hope and belief that, even though you may fall far from the american "norm", it is love that binds us together, and in the end somehow,triumphs over all our short comings and imperfections.
It did start out slow for me, but stay with it...it grabbed my heart somewhere, and still hasn't let it go.
I don't know that if I had "read" it , I would have experienced the same outcome, as the reader for me became Jerry Battle, telling his story, that I think, connects us to our own...
This book is the third that Chang-Rae Lee, a Korean American writer, has produced and it is different from the first two because the protagonist is not a Korean but a native American, albeit with an Asian son-in-law. It is beautifully written, using the protagonist's hobby of flying a plane as a metaphor for his approach to his life. The depiction of this character, and the changes in his life as he gets more deeply involved in the lives of his father and his children and seeks to right the mistakes of a significant relationship is involving and beautifully written. I highly recommend this book.
This is not a bad book, and I finished it, and was happy to learn the fate of the characters. I even thought with familiarity (not quite love, but not contempt either) of the characters by the end. But overall, I'd rather not have read it as it didn't bring anything to me. Although my family is not dysfunctional, I can empathize with those whose are. And if you like John Irving's stories, you'll find the same bizarre dysfunctions here, but it won't be half as funny. Funny isn't the point of this book. It's more bitter sweet. But at the end of the book, I was left to wonder what the point was?
Oh, and if you think you're going to get a story about flying, forget it. Flying is completely anecdotic (well not quite, read or listen till the end) but it's not what this story is about. A better title would have been "Aloof", or "Antagonisms" or "A dysfunctional family", because that's what the book is about.
It is rare that a book written with such humor and a light tone affects me so deeply. The character, although a little older and much different from me, asks questions about himself and his relationships that have made me spend time thinking about myself and how I want to spend the remainder of my life. I think the narrator has done a great job with this book, bringing me through the story in an effortless manner. Highly recommended
reader is great, story is great. the writing is concise, humorous and poignant. The story of Battle is a classic american story. The vantage point he tells it from is unique. Retired, single, caring for his children and his father, doing both with ambivalence and uncertainty about how to do it right.
while i am still only in my 40s i felt a lot of connection to battle's plight. a really good read for fathers and daughters and sons.
An exceptionally well-conceived and executed novel - Chang-Rae's prose cuts through the clutter of a seemingly ordinary life and offers up smile-through-the tears reflections on identity - cultural, generational, interpersonal. There is not a false note in here. The audiobook narration is a bit uneven in parts, but overall a wonderful experience.
I recenty read (in print) A Gesture Life by Chang Rae Lee, and loved it. It was an amazing book. So I was excited to listen to Aloft. I don't know whether it was the reader, who I don't think captured the right tone, or the overly sappy story, but it just didn't do anything for me. And I really expected to like it. The story and characters seemed formulaic and predictable. And without giving away the ending, I'll say that the conculsion struck me the same way. I probably won't read another by this author, sadly.
First of all, I think that Chang-rae Lee is a brilliant author. His characterization and style is mystifying and disarming at the same time. The author will catch you off guard by shocking you one second and then enlightening you the next.
Jerry Battle, the main character tells the story exactly as he could. He is a sensitive, introspective man that hides under a sheepskin of macho complaceny. And he boldly wears the skin. Initially I found his smug demeanor to be caustic, but I became empathetic because I think we all hide our true selves from others. Jerry has suffered many hardships, and many of these hardships are his fault. He seemingly casts off the guilt with a shrug, but there is a deeper pain he hides and are later revealed by action. Now I think this is the skill of the author, because he could cast his character into a hole of pain and anxiety, but that wouldn't be Jerry Battle. He is just a normal guy. He loves his family. He's made some mistakes in life that he regrets and hopes to reconcile. He's got a sense of humor and he's very accepting, although he puts up a front of unbending resolve. And he is only one that can save and keep his family together.
I bought this audio book because I'm a private pilot. If that is your interest, don't get this book. That is definitely a very minor part of the story. This is like listening to someone think - lots of tangents. Too much rambling and profanity for my tastes. I agree with the other reviewer that the narration was a bit rough. Sometimes I lost track of who was speaking during dialogues. Although there were some good character insights, I was glad when it was over.
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