The Heat of the Sun
By David Rain
(Henry Holt and Co., Hardcover, 9780805096705, 304pp.)
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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An exuberant debut that sweeps across the twentieth century--beginning where one world-famous love story left off to introduce us to another
With Sophie Tucker belting from his hand-crank phonograph and a circle of boarding-school admirers laughing uproariously around him, Ben "Trouble" Pinkerton first appears to us through the amazed eyes of his Blaze Academy schoolmate, the crippled orphan Woodley Sharpless. Soon Woodley finds his life inextricably linked with this strange boy's. The son of Lieutenant Benjamin Pinkerton and the geisha Madame Butterfly, Trouble is raised in the United States by Pinkerton (now a Democrat senator) and his American wife, Kate. From early in life, Trouble finds himself at the center of some of the biggest events of the century--and though over time Woodley's and Trouble's paths diverge, their lives collide again to dramatic effect.
From Greenwich Village in the Roaring Twenties, to WPA labor during the Great Depression; from secret work at Los Alamos, New Mexico, to a revelation on a Nagasaki hillside by the sea--Woodley observes firsthand the highs and lows of the twentieth century and witnesses, too, the extraordinary destiny of the Pinkerton family.
David Rain's The Heat of the Sun is a high-wire act of sustained invention--as playful as it is ambitious, as moving as it is theatrical, and as historically resonant as it is evocative of the powerful bonds of friendship and of love.
David Rain is an Australian writer who lives in London. He has taught literature and writing at universities, including Queen's University of Belfast, University of Brighton, and Middlesex University, London.
This book is a thing of beauty: Rain constructs the story like an opera libretto, with an overture, four acts and an intermission. Swinging through the decades, intermingling cultural and political developments, Rain is subtle and assured, a writer of unquestionable talent. Do yourself a favour and read this wonderful book now.
"A wildly audacious and compellingly written book… Reading The Heat of the Sun is like watching an author keep daring himself to take higher and higher hurdles and clearing them every time; he creates dizzying effects, both in his web of plot twists and in the prism of twentieth-century history through which he tells his story." -Opera News Magazine
"An explosive story of friendship . . . a sensitive, intelligent snapshot of a watershed moment in our country's history. . . Rain's worthy novel is a touching, often searing tale of friendship, betrayal and love. His flawed characters are staggering beneath the weight of the past, which they carry like burdens even beyond the book's chilling, operatic conclusion."
"There are passages in the novel that have a heartbreaking beauty worthy of Puccini's music." -The Washington Post
What happened to the characters in Puccini's opera Madama Butterfly after Cio-Cio-San's suicide? Australian author Rain imagines some answers in . . . [a first novel that is] dramatic, even operatic, and an engaging read.
Rain, who's 'far too young to be writing this exquisitely' (Bookbag), imagines what happened to the son of Madame Butterfly, Puccini's eponymous heroine.
[The] characters and a sense of tragedy evoke American authors Fitzgerald and Styron, yet Rain's outsider worldview enriches rather than dulls the narrative, particularly in sequences set in Pacific Rim Asia and others involving the Bomb. The author masterfully weaves Madame Butterfly through the 20th century, assuring that the connections never read as coincidences or plot devices.
A remarkable debut that reinvents, elaborates and extends into the late 20th century the story Puccini made famous in Madama Butterfly. The book might be called postmodern, but it never makes references to create ironic distance--on the contrary, every detail is in the service of the elaborate, operatic melodrama, the story within the story. A version of the ancient story of love and honor, and honor betrayed, it culminates at the Trinity A-bomb test, the characters, each in their own way, devastated. Rain is master of this inventive, operatic and at moments harrowing debut.
This fantastic story swirls around an irresistibly charismatic 'bad boy' whose odyssey of self-definition pulls the whole world in its wake. Like the historical epochs and episodes it weaves into a mesmerizing puzzle, The Heat of the Sun is by turns wildly colorful and strait-laced, witty and rueful, reserved and operatic. David Rain's clever mixture of fact and famous fiction puts a new spin on the 'butterfly effect.'
The more I read The Heat of the Sun, the more I admired it: for its imaginative reach, its emotional power, and the lit-up beauty and exactitude of its writing. I thought it breathtakingly good.
David Rain's striking debut novel manages the audacious feat of burying its soul of romantic tragedy inside a story of great theatrical invention and whimsy. The result is wholly original, and a lot of fun. Read it and the 20th Century may never look the same to you again.
David Rain is far too young to be writing this exquisitely. . . Pinkerton is glamour encapsulated. . . .The scope of the book is vast . . .from the early 1920s, through to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. . . . The whole is a story about the universal search for love and for self, set at a time when there was less freedom to do either of those things. . .There isn't so much an echo of Scott Fitzgerald in these pages as a gentle background refrain that hauntingly lingers at the edges of every page.