Brightfellow A novel

Rikki Ducornet, 1943-

Book - 2016

"A feral boy comes of age on a campus decadent with starched sheets, sweating cocktails, and homemade jams. Stub is the cause of that missing sweater, the pie that disappeared off the cooling rack. Then Stub meets Billy, who takes him in, and Asthma, who enchants him, and all is found, then lost. A fragrant, voluptuous novel of imposture, misplaced affection, and emotional deformity. An artist and writer, Rikki Ducornet has illustrated books by Robert Coover, Jorge Luis Borges, Forrest Gand...er, and Joanna Howard. Her paintings have been exhibited widely, including, most recently, at the Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Salvador Allende Museum in Santiago, Chile"--

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FICTION/Ducornet Rikki
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Genres
Bildungsromans
Published
Minneapolis : Coffee House Press 2016.
Language
English
Physical Description
143 pages ; 20 cm
ISBN
9781566894401
1566894409
Main Author
Rikki Ducornet, 1943- (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

In her latest thought-provoking novel, following Netsuke (2011), Ducornet explores the deep core of humankind through Stub, a young man who lives on a university campus like a ghost, trying to escape the traumas of his childhood. He steals from professors and gym lockers in an attempt to piece together his own world from the lives of others, driven by three things: books by Verner Vanderloon, an isolated eccentric and adventurer; Asthma, a beautiful little girl whom he idolizes; and the need to survive. Stub moves fluidly around the campus as both an outsider and an insider until he is taken in by Billy, a lonely, divorced professor. Suddenly, the lives Stub had only been observing are now tantalizingly close at hand. Finally, he gets the chance to experience what it means to be cherished as a human being, but by then, it is too late. Bursting with vivid imagery, beautiful language, heartbreaking characters, and the striking perspective of an emotionally stunted man in a carefully controlled society, Ducornet's tale is unique and captivating. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

If Ducornet (Netsuke) typically writes fiction that reads like fable, this story of wild child Stub is a dark fairy tale indeed, with the sparkle of black opals. After Stub's irritable mother vanishes and his loving but ineffectual father withdraws in his grief, Stub hides himself to a nearby college and lives there surreptitiously, befriending the librarian, sleeping in little-used spaces, and stealing food and clothing. As he says with typical adolescent self-regard, What if my life is not only the mirror of my own thwarted destiny, or the mirror of mankind's thwarted destiny, but the mirror of my species' capacity to overcome the worst odds? Stub is certainly a remarkable survivor but a thief and liar as well, managing to live on campus for many years and finally getting himself invited into the home of addled professor Billy. He passes himself off as Charter Chase, a Fulbright student from Australia, and he's pleased that Billy lives next door to little Asthma, the daughter of self-absorbed academics, whom Stub befriends not pruriently but because she's an abandoned child like himself. But can he keep up the charade? VERDICT A dreamily written yet unsentimental meditation on what we do to survive.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal [Page 76]. (c) Copyright 2016 Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Ducornet has made an estimable career mining often bizarre, horrifying, or otherwise unpredictable territory. This novel is perhaps her most accessible book, which she achieves without sacrificing the trademark fluidity of her language or her penchant for making heroes out of odd and unlikely figures. The hero is Stub, a damaged and orphaned teenager who hangs around a college campus, masquerading as a student named Charter Chase. He eats food he steals from houses and lives in the storage room of the library. There, Stub/Charter becomes the devoted reader of a reclusive and ignored philosopher named Verner Vanderloon, whose works of eccentric anthropology include Primates in Paradise and Cannibal Ways; Stub also becomes fascinated with Asthma, the child of a local history professor. In the singular and enchanted Asthma—who lectures her toys, speculates on the religious leanings of the beetles in her backyard, and renames Stub "Brightfellow"—Stub finds a dreamer like himself. After he is adopted by doddering professor emeritus William Sweetbriar, the two become a sort of ersatz family to the young imposter. But Stub is harboring secrets no one suspects, and just as the discovery of his charade comes to seem inevitable, his obsession with Asthma takes a darker turn. Ducornet has written the oddest of varsity novels, one that anchors its charming caprice, philosophical fancy, and thriller-like pace to the psychological horror that lurks just beyond childhood innocence. (July) [Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

"Praise for Rikki Ducornet:"Linguistically explosive. one of the most interesting American writers around."--The Nation"Ducornet--surrealist, absurdist, pure anarchist at times--is one of our most accomplished writers, adept at seizing on the perfect details and writing with emotion and cool detachment simultaneously. I love her style because it is penetrating and precise but also sensual without being overwrought. You experience a Ducornet novel with all of your senses."--Jeff VanderMeer. A feral boy comes of age on a campus decadent with starched sheets, sweating cocktails, and homemade jams. Stub is the cause of that missing sweater, the pie that disappeared off the cooling rack. Then Stub meets Billy, who takes him in, and Asthma, who enchants him, and all is found, then lost. A fragrant, voluptuous novel of imposture, misplaced affection, and emotional deformity. An artist and writer, Rikki Ducornet has illustrated books by Robert Coover, Jorge Luis Borges, Forrest Gander, and Joanna Howard. Her paintings have been exhibited widely, including, most recently, at the Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Salvador Allende Museum in Santiago, Chile"--

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A voluptuous novel of imposture, emotional deformity, feral children, and the dangers of taking in that little boy lost.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Praise for Rikki Ducornet:“A novelist whose vocabulary sweats with a kind of lyrical heat.” —New York Times“Ducornet—surrealist, absurdist, pure anarchist at times—is one of our most accomplished writers, adept at seizing on the perfect details and writing with emotion and cool detachment simultaneously. I love her style because it is penetrating and precise but also sensual without being overwrought. You experience a Ducornet novel with all of your senses.” —Jeff VanderMeer“Linguistically explosive. . . . One of the most interesting American writers around.” —The Nation“Ducornet celebrates the playful and rebellious nature of art, and the anarchic ability of the imagination to subvert physical limitations.” —Times Literary SupplementA feral boy comes of age on a campus decadent with starched sheets, sweating cocktails, and homemade jams. Stub is the cause of that missing sweater, the pie that disappeared off the cooling rack. Then Stub meets Billy, who takes him in, and Asthma, who enchants him, and all is found, then lost. A fragrant, voluptuous novel of imposture, misplaced affection, and emotional deformity.An artist and writer, Rikki Ducornet has illustrated books by Robert Coover, Jorge Luis Borges, Forrest Gander, and Joanna Howard. Her paintings have been exhibited widely, including, most recently, at the Pierre Menard Gallery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Salvador Allende Museum in Santiago, Chile.