cover image Panorama


Steve Kistulentz. Little, Brown, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-55176-2

The plot of Kistulentz’s poignant debut novel (after the poetry collection Little Black Daydream) centers on a New Year’s Day plane crash in Dallas that kills everyone on board. But this is neither a thriller nor a traditional disaster story. A short opening chapter describes the tragedy, then flashes back a day or so. The reader follows the highly self-reflective activities of Richard MacMurray, a discontented cable news anchor, as well as his sister, Mary Beth. She has been dating her boss, Mike Renfro, and considers him her leading prospect for marriage. Having a husband is a priority for Mary Beth, single mother to her six-year-old son, Gabriel, who has never known his biological father. Richard eschews the glare of the public spotlight for an evening alone with a bottle of wine, while Mary Beth and Mike ring in the New Year with a romantic getaway in Salt Lake City. The crash occurs near the novel’s midpoint, and the story then follows the families and loved ones of the victims as they cope, grieve, and try to understand their losses, particularly Richard and Gabriel, who are brought together after Mary Beth dies in the crash. This is a lyrical and moving debut novel. (Mar.)