Inventive fantasy in a first novel from a Boston writer. In 2002, as viewers are watching the World Cup soccer finals between Brazil and Hungary, every television in the world goes dead. Instinctively, a Brazilian peasant named Paco knows that the key to this calamity lies with charismatic astronaut Gregory Fisher, and half the novel involves Paco and his beautiful wife Maria's dauntless trek to find him. There are many narrators: a physician who falls in love with Maria; one of Fisher's old girlfriends; a talent agent who scouts Maria (a singer). Fisher, it seems, has been to space too many times: he glows in the dark; he can walk on air. He hitchhikes aboard a space shuttle and sights a huge tree growing near Lake Chad, and therein lies the mystery—but what does it mean? Our last clues are delivered through the earnest investigations of a fifth-grade class, whose teacher, the gifted Miss Hsu-ling, runs off with Fisher in the final scenes. Sutton's intentions are not to make acid observations about the impact of television, except in a subtle and whimsical way. She has a light touch, as in her sly, passing jokes about Dan Quayle, and lingers over each of her characters—even overextending things somewhat—in this slightest of yarns. The reason the televisions stopped has no scientific explanation; it was a kind of dark mood, shared simultaneously among all humankind, that did it. Similarly, the televisions start again almost on a whim. Everything we call reality, Sutton seems to be saying, hangs on a contrivance, and wafts away with an errant thought. A deft, modern folk tale, in its whimsical moments reminiscent of Madeleine L'Engle.
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