The Night of the Comet
Ballantine, 2013 (2013)
Reviewed by Carrol Wolverton
A Novel of Unmet Expectations ...
o few things in life are what we imagine them in advance. Particularly, the creative mind envisions what real life fails to deliver. So it is with the Kohoutek, the 1973 comet named after the astronomer who discovered it. Its failure to deliver its expected solar display symbolizes the family story unraveled in this literary novel.
illy with her curly red hair imagines a great future for herself, but marries a mundane science teacher. He shows up night after night at the Rexall where she clerks. She marries him and abandons her dreams – sort of. Their fourteen-year-old son tells the story of their married life and how her disappointment plays out – badly.
he science teacher's fixation with the comet leads to a successful fundraiser, an unfortunate affair, and a public disappointment because of the comet's historic and notorious fizzle.
he novel is a well crafted, well written, cohesive work. What it lacks in excitement it makes up in comment on the human condition via a comet that won't shine and a Lilly who won't blossom. The fourteen-year-old somehow figures all this out. The fourteen-year-olds I've know are clueless, not unlike the astronomy and science teacher who once had his own dreams.
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