The Outer Buoy: A Story of the Ultimate Voyage

Jan de Hartog, Author, S. Michael Bessie, Editor
Jan de Hartog, Author, S. Michael Bessie, Editor Pantheon Books $23 (243p) ISBN 978-0-679-43604-1
Hardcover - 480 pages - 978-0-7089-3771-6
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Lying in an isolation chamber in a NASA lab in Houston, octogenarian Dutch ex-sea captain Martin Harinxma attempts to have an out-of-body experience so that his consciousness, floating free from his body, can visit the moon and read the dial on a damaged lunar module. Four other European WWII vets, all navigational experts, have been recruited along with Harinxma for this secret mission, whose ostensible goal is to furnish data to aid in the construction of a space station. De Hartog's ambitious novel, which completes a saga begun in The Captain and continued in The Centurion and The Commodore, disappoints as an adventure and as an exploration of paranormal research, promising much more than it delivers. But as a study of one man's gallant confrontation with old age and death, it is poignant, touching and ruefully wise. Harinxma, a self-deprecating widower still mourning the wife who died a year earlier, is a complex figure. His ordeal with prostate cancer, his memories of D-Day and his relationship with a nurturing woman who cares for infants dying of AIDS give the story emotional depth. (Nov.)
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