cover image The Age of Perpetual Light

The Age of Perpetual Light

Josh Weil. Grove, $25 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2701-3

Weil (The Great Glass Sea) showcases his narrative abilities in these offbeat and spirited stories. The opening, “No Flies, No Folly,” follows the hardscrabble life of a Russian Jewish peddler named Yankel Yushrov, now living in the United States, sometime in the middle of the 20th century. While showing an Edison lamp to an Amish woman, he falls breathtakingly in love. Yankel appears again in the final story, “Hello from Here,” writing a letter home early in his emigration. In “Angle of Reflection,” a group of adventurous teenagers looking for the wreckage of a Soviet satellite suffer a life-altering tragedy. “The First Bad Thing” has a hard-bitten noir flavor, starting with an unnamed man in a truck on a dark night who picks up an unnamed woman obviously on the run from something. Other stories include a showdown between a group of frustrated farmers and a power company encroaching on their bucolic lives, and a couple’s unsteady (mal)adjustment to a new life in cramped quarters in New York. Weil’s stories have the scope and detours of longer work, and often seem to move on their own, following the protagonists’ unpredictable lives. The breadth of subject matter and styles is impressive, defying easy categorization and making the stories all the more memorable. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Associates. (Sept.)