Walking on Air: A Novel

Front Cover
Harper Collins, Mar 17, 2009 - Fiction - 272 pages
1 Review

William Addams is dying. Controlling, mercurial, and estranged from his family, he is consumed by the fear that he'll be abandoned by Henry and Susan, his closest friends, the only people on whom he can rely.

What he wants is for their faithfulness to last until they take him home to his beloved house to die. But as William's condition worsens, it becomes apparent that his expectations of devotion and loyalty involve not simply a loving commitment but the virtual handing over of his friends' vitality and independence; indeed, William covets their very lives.

Filled with penetrating insights and dazzling beauty, Walking on Air explores the shadowy, often disturbing parameters of devotion, demonstrating its inevitable limits as well as its astounding powers of transformation.

 

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WALKING ON AIR

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Once again, Jones (Force of Gravity, 1991) clamps an iron grip on themes of obsession, death, and delusionbut renders the increments of human despair more successfully by charting the course of decay ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - porchsitter55 - LibraryThing

This was one of the most depressing books I've ever read, coming in only second to "The Diary of Anne Frank". It's about a terminally ill man and how a couple of his closest friends come to terms with ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
3
Section 2
13
Section 3
30
Section 4
38
Section 5
46
Section 6
53
Section 7
68
Section 8
78
Section 14
137
Section 15
145
Section 16
158
Section 17
166
Section 18
177
Section 19
198
Section 20
212
Section 21
225

Section 9
88
Section 10
103
Section 11
106
Section 12
123
Section 13
127
Section 22
230
Section 23
239
Section 24
245
Section 25
246
Copyright

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Page 102 - Grief too will make us idealists. In the death of my son, now more than two years ago, I seem to have lost a beautiful estate, — no more. I cannot get it nearer to me.
Page 102 - There are moods in which we court suffering, in the hope that here at least we shall find reality, sharp peaks and edges of truth. But it turns out to be scene-painting and counterfeit. The only thing grief has taught me is to know how shallow it is. That, like all the rest, plays about the surface, and never introduces me into the reality, for contact with which we would even pay the costly price of sons and lovers.
Page 102 - I seem to have lost a beautiful estate, no more. I cannot get it nearer to me. If to-morrow I should be informed of the bankruptcy of my principal debtors, the loss of my property would be a great inconvenience to me, perhaps for many years, but it would leave me as it found me, neither better nor worse. So it is with this calamity ; it does not touch me ; something which I fancied was a part of me, which could not be torn away without tearing me, nor enlarged without enriching me, fallsoff from...
Page 2 - I have never been anywhere but sick. In a sense sickness is a place, more instructive than a long trip to Europe, and it's always a place where there's no company, where nobody can follow.
Page 102 - ... years ago, I seem to have lost a beautiful estate,—no more. I cannot get it nearer to me. If to-morrow I should be informed of the bankruptcy of my principal debtors, the loss of my property would be a great inconvenience to me, perhaps, for many years; but it would leave me as it found me,—neither better nor worse. So it is with this calamity: it does not touch me: some thing which I fancied was a part of me, which could not be torn away without tearing me, nor enlarged without enriching...
Page 102 - I grieve that grief can teach me nothing, nor carry me one step into real nature. The Indian who was laid under a curse, that the wind should not blow on him, nor water flow to him, nor fire burn him, is a type of us all. The dearest events are summer rain, and we the Para coats that shed every drop.
Page 176 - Left in that pestilential place, and utterly without the power to hope for comfort, I could neither sit nor lie down : there was no room. I was placed as it were in a hole in the wall; and those walls, terrible to look on of themselves, hemmed me in on every side. I could not breathe. There was no light, but all was thick darkness. I do not understand how it is ; though there was no light, yet everything that can give pain by being seen was visible.
Page 176 - ... hell. I understood that it was our Lord's will I should see the place which the devils kept in readiness for me, and which I had deserved by my sins. It was but a moment, but it seems to me impossible I should ever forget it even if I were to live many years. 2. The entrance seemed to be by a long narrow pass, like a furnace, very low, dark, and close. The ground seemed to be saturated with water, mere mud, exceedingly foul, sending forth pestilential odours, and covered with loathsome vermin....
Page 60 - Sometimes when he was alone, he grew tearful with gratitude for the community he shared with the other patients, but often when he was there he felt entombed by their contagion, as if their every twitch and tremble made him vulnerable to another disease.

About the author (2009)

R.S. Jones wrote Force of Gravity and Walking on Air, and was a recipient of a Whiting Writers' Award. He was president of the New York chapter of the ACT UP AIDS Awareness Organization, and editor in chief and vice president of HarperCollins Publishers.

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