Books by Eric Kraft

Eric Kraft is the author of a large (and growing) work of fiction called The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy, which Newsweek called “The literary equivalent of Fred Astaire dancing: great art that looks like fun.” I

FLYING by Eric Kraft
Released: March 3, 2009

"Flying Home doesn't soar quite so high as its predecessors, but the finished trilogy is a trip not to be missed."
This delightful omnibus volume includes three novels: the previously published Taking Off and On the Wing and the never before published Flying Home, which completes the adolescent adventure of Kraft's serial alter ego character Peter Leroy—aka the "Bird Boy of Babbington." Read full book review >
ON THE WING by Eric Kraft
Released: July 1, 2007

" 'The world owes a lot to muddleheaded dreamers,' we're assured. Yes, but nowhere near as much as rib-tickled readers owe to the indispensable Kraft. "
If Jack Kerouac had had a sense of humor, he'd have left Dean Moriarty in the drunk tank and hit the road with Kraft's irresistible alter ego Peter Leroy. Read full book review >
TAKING OFF by Eric Kraft
Released: July 11, 2006

"Still, only sporadically equal to the best of the Chronicles. But if you're a Peter Leroy completist, don't even think of missing it."
The past is recaptured in accents ruefully funny enough to turn Marcel Proust into Jacques Tati, in the latest Chronicle of Peter Leroy. Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2004

"More of the same, and may it go on forever. Mark Twain and Will Rogers would have felt right at home with the Leroys."
Middle age, mortality, and the meaning of life: all are examined with the lightest touch imaginable in this tenth in Kraft's ongoing Chronicles (Inflating the Dog, 2002, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: July 1, 2002

"Glorious stuff. Is there no end to the (obviously autobiographical, irresistibly entertaining) permutations of Peter Leroy? Let's hope not."
Kraft's multivolume Chronicles of Peter Leroy (Leaving Small's Hotel, 1998, etc.) continue with this often hilarious bittersweet tale of adolescence recollected in tranquility: middle-aged Peter's fictional improvement on the subject of his mother Ella's checkered career as an independent businesswoman. Read full book review >
Released: May 20, 1998

The latest installment (after At Home With the Glynns, 1995) in the ongoing chronicles of Peter Leroy (whose early volumes were published separately in the 1980s, then collected in Little Follies, 1992). Peter—Kraft's admitted alter ego (as a disarmingly metafictional "Preface" and "Afterword" make clear, "We are not the same person, though we share a mind")—has now reached middle age, and both career and midlife crises: His marriage is showing its age, and the small hotel (‘'Small's") that he and his wife Albertine run on an island near his hometown (Babbington, Long Island) is failing and may not be easy to unload. A plan is hatched: Like a very Scheherazade, Peter will offer readings from his ongoing memoirs (entitled Dead Air) to guests, a chapter a night for 50 nights, ending on the occasion of his 50th birthday. The stories Peter tells—deftly interwoven with the story of his and Albertine's rueful compromises with the facts of time and change—make up an endearing history of ex-urban American life that consistently evokes Mark Twain, James Thurber, and their kindred. The result is a compact comic Decameron, a deadpan fantasia woven around several important, not to say obsessive, present concerns (mainly, courting realtors and potential buyers) and memories (young Peter's preadolescent crush on a schoolmate's mother; mock-Tom Swiftian misadventures with photography, radio transmission, and a planned flying-saucer detector; and his interrupted progress on a detective novel, Murder While You Wait, are especially choice). And if that weren't enough, Kraft/Leroy has (have?) a positive genius for chapter titles ("Bivalves from Outer Space," "Artificial Insinuation") and attention-getting understatements ("I decided to believe in flying saucers after seeing five of them and a naked woman while I was carrying the garbage cans out"). Add in an unsentimental and perfectly convincing portrayal of a happy marriage, and you have the recipe for a minor masterpiece: one of the most delightful novels of the decade. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1995

Another installment in the ever-expanding chronicle of Kraft's fictional universe, this gently provocative novel uses a boy's delicious dalliance with two sisters to serve up the author's true passion: Deep Questions about the nature of art and memory. Speaking as usual through his narrator and stand-in Peter Leroy, Kraft (Where Do You Stop?, 1992, etc.) invites us to spend time with the Glynns, out-of-place bohemians in Babbington, Long Island. Andy is a painter and art teacher; his wife, Rosetta, a melancholy poet; their twin daughters, Margot and Martha, are precocious 14-year-olds who want to entice young Peter into a mÇnage Ö trois. The plot, such as it is, pits Kraft/Leroy's digressive tendencies against the reader's fond hopes that the book will live up to the promise of its early sexual-initiation scene, a model of the genre. A key digression is Andy's search for classical visual archetypes—e.g., the ``pure'' watermelon—a quest that captures Peter's imagination shortly after he consummates his relationship with the twins. The fact that the Glynns are Middle European exiles hiding under assumed names, that the twins' ``foreplay'' consists of having Peter act out the plots of the foreign films they see at the local art house, and that Peter's involvement with the girls will eventually resemble the plots of the movies he sees—well, that's the kind of High Fun to be found in Kraft's self-referential but never boring Art. Meanwhile, Leroy will be everywhere this spring: Picador is issuing all Kraft's previous fiction in paperback, while Voyager is producing an interactive electronic version of the complete Peter Leroy saga. Kraft's latest, sexy-sweet novel devolves into a perfect madeleine—dissolving just as you bite into it, leaving an insatiable desire for more. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1992

Another installment in the whimsical boyhood of Kraft's alter ego, Peter Leroy, following this year's Little Follies, a gathering of all the adventures to date. Peter embarks on the great world of the seventh grade, in which he encounters a science teacher, Miss Rheingold, the most beautiful woman in the world. Miss Rheingold does not so much want her students to learn science as to ``fall in love with it,'' and Peter does, or at least he falls in love with Miss Rheingold. She divides the class into groups and assigns a paper with no deadline. The theme is, ``Where does it stop?'' and the question bedevils Peter into adulthood. Where, in fact, does childhood end and adulthood begin, or what are the precise boundaries of love, or when do we begin to die? Kraft's writing is subtle, on a par with the early Vonnegut for its playfulness with graphs and ultimate scientific questions, as innocent as Booth Tarkington's Penrod in its boyish maneuverings. The seventh grade is also where Peter learns about black children, how the world does not stop with the boundaries of his prosperous Long Island suburb, how it doesn't stop, either, with the poverty now a part of his expanded consciousness. Kraft's humor is always grounded in common, rather sad truths; only occasionally does he overextend his jokes, as with Peter's worry that he has somehow violated essential rules when he doesn't follow instructions on first opening a new textbook. In the end, Kraft's entire novel is Miss Rheingold's paper, turned in many years late, but in profound tribute to her wisdom. The best entry so far in an engaging series. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 1, 1992

Nine charming novellas of an all-American boy, all but one of which appeared individually in paperback in the early 1980's, here offered as a hardcover ``serial novel.'' Kraft (Reservations Recommended, 1990; Herb 'n' Lorna, 1988) is a veteran comic writer with an occasional dark touch. Here, he recaptures childhood for all of us, as a time of exploration, flights of the imagination, and sexual confusion. He also captures the small-town atmosphere of 1950's Long Island, with its innocence and easy living and yet also with its repression. In ``Do Clams Bite?'' Peter Leroy is staying in his father's old room when he discovers photographs of a naked woman whom he slowly comes to realize is May, a friend of his father's still but not his wife; May has never married. To twist the knife, Kraft has May tuck Peter into bed and caress him gently. It's a funny story, full of clamlore, but there's also an underlying terror rather like that in John Knowles. Then there's the man in ``My Mother Takes a Tumble'' who, masquerading as a woman, writes to lonely men—with hilarious results. Most of the pieces are about sexual initiation in one way or another: in ``Life on the Bolotomy,'' otherwise a kind of parodic salute to Mark Twain with its boy's river odyssey, May makes love to Peter's older friend; and in ``The Girl with the White Fur Muff,'' Peter is introduced to female anatomy, if not quite to sex. But the mood is gentle and comic, innocent at heart, in the end far more reminiscent of Booth Tarkington than of John Knowles. Peter stays a child, and in ``The Young Tars''—a sendup of Boy Scouts and 4-H and all those other clubs for youth—he's a boy rather like Penrod or the Tom Sawyer who can talk you into painting his fence. Nine novellas do not quite a novel make, but these are delightful and satisfying stories from a sure stylist, sweet without ever being sentimental. Read full book review >