The Aerialist: A Novel
The dark, seemingly glitzy world of an American traveling circus is the setting for Richard Schmitt's brilliant debut novel The Aerialist.
On the edge of Venice, Florida, lie the winterquarters -- a circus in repose. One day Gary -- who hasn't cared much what sort of job he's had -- finds himself signing on as a circus hand. Everyone has seen or heard of the wirewalker, the trapeze artist, and the clown, but there are others: The "twenty-four-hour man" who arrives in a town first to post arrows that point the way to the lot; the "bullhands" who remove the elephants' excrement out from under their tumultuous bodies; the "butchers" who distract the audience from the wonders on stage so that they might purchase a cotton candy or a plastic ray-gun. Gary becomes instantly familiar with this new life -- a life for which he has abandoned everything and nothing at all.
In story-like chapters, Richard Schmitt describes a hapless, magical existence in an American voice as starkly resonant as that of Richard Ford -- and through his description of Gary's inevitable progression from circus hand to wire-walker, the circus emerges as a symbol of human aspiration.
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THE AERIALISTUser Review - Jane Doe - Kirkus
A gritty, solidly detailed first novel, set among traveling circuses and their world-weary "artists" and workingmen: the best novel of its kind since Edward Hoagland's Cat Man (1955).The episodic and ... Read full review
The aerialist: a novelUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Gary, a hapless high school dropout and runaway, gets a job, almost by accident, as a laborer with a traveling circus. He is quickly seduced by the security of repeated ritual and the closed system ... Read full review