Panorama City

Antoine Wilson, Author
Antoine Wilson. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-547-87512-5
Reviewed on: 07/16/2012
Release date: 09/25/2012
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Wilson’s second novel (after Interloper) is fresh and flawlessly crafted as well as charmingly genuine. Oppen Porter is almost 30, a guileless man who lives in a small central California town with his reclusive father in a house overtaken by nature. Untouched by cynicism, Oppen’s interpretation of the world around him evokes both the sublime and the ridiculous. His daily routine consists of riding into town on his bicycle to find odd jobs, feeling sublime happiness at “the softest burring sound” his tires make on the asphalt, and playing a long-running game of chicken with Hector and Mike Alvarez. But the death of Oppen’s father changes Oppen’s life, sending him to live with his Aunt Liz in Panorama City, in the San Fernando Valley, where he pursues two goals: to become a man of the world (he wants this) and to never again be the village idiot (his Aunt Liz wants this). On his way to his new life, Oppen meets a wise man who threatens to derail Aunt Liz’s plans and bring Oppen’s lofty goal into question. Oppen experiments with various roles—dedicated worker, student of religion, thinker—eventually finding his place in the world, framing a classic coming-of-age story in an unexpected way. Agent: Anna Stein, Aitken Alexander Associates. (Sept. 25)
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