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(01/03/2009) Catching Fire by Wyatt Wyatt. New York. 1977. Random House. keywords: Literature America. 273 pages. Jacket design by Jack Ribik. 0394407644. April 1977.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   The deaf girl sat by the pool, her raven-black hair flashing in the sun, her long legs glistening with sweat. As Norman fled, she half whispered after him, perhaps thinking it a shout, 'I can bring you back to life, pigman!' Fifteen months, seven days and almost five hours had passed since he had made love to anybody. And now it has started. Norman Foreman is about to Catch Fire. CATCHING FIRE: a delightful and altogether uncommon novel - a comedy, a love story, a fable, even, by the end, a bit of a suspense story, by one of the most impressive new talents in contemporary fiction. CATCHING FIRE is the story of an erstwhile professor of speech and now professional writer of canned sermons: Norman Foreman, who has had the misfortune to have been burned, literally and figuratively, by love, causing him to lose his wife, his home, his job and his navel. Norman has taken a vow: never again, he swears, the beast of desire, never again the triumph of animal lust. Ah, until that day fifteen months, seven days and almost five hours later. when that first faint spark is struck, and it begins: the slow, hilarious, aching, astonishing and finally rattling roller-coaster ride of sexual and emotional reawakening, a plunge down a path loaded with pitfalls and lined by extraordinary characters - a concatenation of con men, rogues, fools, and a devastating female embodiment of the life force noted Spider Webb, all of whom reside most un-Edenic hotel known as the Paradise. It is there they teach Norman the primal lesson: in order to be human, we must first discover the beast in all of us. This is a novel full of surprises and delights, with a prose that jumps off every page and a particular quality of bittersweet joy - a simultaneous celebration of life and close attention to human frailties - that will not soon. be forgotten. Above all, as Harry Crews attests on the front cover, Wyatt Wyatt is a storyteller, and as CATCHING FIRE 'spins itself out in page after page of language solid and gamy as flesh' it will have you laughing, frightened, moved, and thoroughly in its power. It is a stunning debut by a writer who in the years to come will be heard from again and again.

 

 

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