Luminous Airplanes

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At the same time, he remembers San Francisco in the wild years of the Internet boom, and mourns the loss of Swan, a madman who may have been the only person to understand what was happening to the city, and to the world. Luminous Airplanes has a singular form: the novel, complete in itself, is accompanied by an online "immersive text," which continues the story and complements it.

Nearly ten years in the making, La Farge's ambitious new work considers large worlds and small ones, love, memory, family, flying machines, dance music, and the end of the world. An open-ended, postmodern fable that somehow delivers the satisfaction of the novelistic conventions it subverts.

Paul La Farge’s Luminous Airplanes in the NYTimes

For a narrative that defies the usual notions of plausibility, cause and effect He has a knack for delivering details as if the reader had already accepted them and was welcoming each discursion freely. Rather than submitting to the darkness of the sleeping bag that is modern fiction, La Farge encourages his readers to search the sky for the signs that herald the return of loved ones we've lost.

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The search is a futile one, but nonetheless satisfying. A wry, provocative, and often hilarious coming-of-age tale.


La Farge has a light touch. Our charming, hilarious narrator is caught in a grinding stasis created by "what I lacked the courage to pursue but could not let go": his crummy programming job, his stillborn dissertation, his dead patriarchs, his impossible plural mothers, and the phoenix of Yesim, his beautiful, mildly hirsute, first love. This perfect figure-8 of a book links San Francisco's tech boom to one nerdy kid's quest to seduce a girl with a computer game to the quacky cul-de-sacs of early aeronautics history to sleepy s upstate New York to the Millerites' cosmic goof.

Luminous Airplanes is a coming of age story like none other I've ever read, one that seems to exists simultaneously in the past and the present, in plausible futures and science-fictional realms. Luminous Airplanes is brilliant, poignant, startling, hilarious, and a really, really fun read.

Paul La Farge reading from Luminous Airplanes – Live! From City Lights

I loved it. Paul La Farge writes beautifully, with wit, humor and passion. He has created as thoroughly imagined a world as you would expect from Chekhov or Flaubert, and has bestowed upon two fictional families enough sympathy and care to rank himself among the best of parents.

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Luminous Airplanes is a quiet triumph of a book. The results inhabit a recognizable world that feels brave and new, a social history that feels like science fiction, and a wild story that you could swear happened to friends of yours.

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It's funny without sacrificing its serious intent; it's ambitious without abandoning its intimate boundaries; it's everything we want in a novel and quite a few things we hadn't thought of until this moment. I closed this book with a tiny little sadness that I'd never again get to experience it for the first time.

Jordan Critz - Flight (Official Audio)

La Farge spins his tale with the grace of an acrobat. Skip to content. Perusall turns often-skipped solitary reading assignments into engaging collective activities students don't want to miss. Students collectively annotate each reading — asking questions, responding to each other's questions, or sharing other perspectives or knowledge.