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Going to the Sun
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About the Author

James McManus is a novelist and poet, most recently winner of the Peter Lisagor Award for sports journalism. He teaches writing and comparative literature at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, including a course on the literature and science of poker.

Reviews

Beckett, bicycling, basketball, bears and blood sugar are among the diverse interests of this meditative road story told in the stunning voice of a diabetic, emotionally scarred young woman. At 29, Penny Culligan, a jazz-loving student of Irish literature, is writing her doctoral thesis as she bicycles from Chicago to Alaska to confront a past trauma. She's bicycling back to the place where her lover, David, was mauled by a grizzly. Haunted by the experience, by the fact that she honored David's request to help him die, as well as by the impending threats of her own disease, Penny has lived in cautious solitude for the past seven years. Now, on this somewhat hazardous trek with the oft-postponed thesis deadline looming, she takes stock of her life. Along the way, she meets the possibly dangerous Ndele Rimes, who claims to be an NBA basketball player but might, she fears, be lying. Poet (Great America) and novelist McManus (Out of the Blue; Chin Music) makes interesting use of Beckett, relating his obsession with physical decay to Penny's diabetes, but ultimately this novel, with its heartland highway vistas and constant motion, could not be more American. If the ending is a bit awkward or unsatisfying, it only underscores the paramount importance of journey over destination. Penny's narrative‘by turns lyrical, pissed off and longing‘is a triumph. (Feb.)

Penny is a thirtyish Beckett scholar with little hope of finishing her dissertation; she has a serious case of diabetes and a ghost from the past. It has been seven years since she mercifully injected her boyfriend, who was mauled by a bear in Alaska, with a fatal dose of her own insulin. Now she is cycling from Chicago to Alaska on a mission not even she fully comprehends. When she has an accident in North Dakota, a very tall, young black man claiming to be a basketball pro and driving a new Mercedes convertible without license plates offers to help. She accepts despite her fears. A complex friendship develops in a short time. But is he really what he claims to be? Can she make it to Alaska? Has her life itself become a Beckettian open question? McManus's (Curtains, Univ. of Chicago, 1985) unusual psychodrama may not be flawless, but it is engaging and challenging, and has a gripping conclusion somewhat reminiscent of the infamous sled ride in Ethan Frome. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Jim Dwyer, California State Univ. Lib., Chico

"A long, Americanized gloss on Beckett...Brilliant, funny and sometimes harrowing." --The New York Times Book Review "Vibrant, original, and keenly interesting at every level. Penny is Huck Finn after grad school, on her bike instead of the raft, but still traveling in search of liberation. Her coolly intelligent voice, the acute observation of the landscape through which she travels, and her pitiless detailing of the routine struggles of a diabetic are each perfect in their ways. This is a first-rate novel." --Scott Turow "Extraordinary work. McManus's precise treatment of physical love and chronic illness are simple and powerful." --Anchee Minn "Could not be more American...Penny's narrative--by turns lyrical, pissed off, and longing--is a triumph." --Publishers Weekly "A well-crafted tale of grief, introspection, and courage." --Booklist A long, Americanized gloss on Beckett...Brilliant, funny and sometimes harrowing. "The New York Times Book Review" Vibrant, original, and keenly interesting at every level. Penny is Huck Finn after grad school, on her bike instead of the raft, but still traveling in search of liberation. Her coolly intelligent voice, the acute observation of the landscape through which she travels, and her pitiless detailing of the routine struggles of a diabetic are each perfect in their ways. This is a first-rate novel. "Scott Turow" Extraordinary work. McManus's precise treatment of physical love and chronic illness are simple and powerful. "Anchee Minn" Could not be more American...Penny's narrative--by turns lyrical, pissed off, and longing--is a triumph. "Publishers Weekly" A well-crafted tale of grief, introspection, and courage. "Booklist"" "A long, Americanized gloss on Beckett...Brilliant, funny and sometimes harrowing." --"The New York Times Book Review" "Vibrant, original, and keenly interesting at every level. Penny is Huck Finn after grad school, on her bike instead of the raft, but still traveling in search of liberation. Her coolly intelligent voice, the acute observation of the landscape through which she travels, and her pitiless detailing of the routine struggles of a diabetic are each perfect in their ways. This is a first-rate novel."--Scott Turow "Extraordinary work. McManus's precise treatment of physical love and chronic illness are simple and powerful." --Anchee Minn "Could not be more American...Penny's narrative--by turns lyrical, pissed off, and longing--is a triumph." --"Publishers Weekly" "A well-crafted tale of grief, introspection, and courage." -"Booklist"

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