cover image Constellation


Adrien Bosc, trans. from the French by Willard Wood. Other Press, $15.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-59051-756-7

French author Bosc’s slender yet ambitious novel re-creates the final flight of Air France F-BAZN, a Lockheed Constellation en route from Paris to New York that crashed into Mount Redondo in the Azores on Oct. 27, 1949. It is best remembered for carrying Marcel Cerdan, a boxer and Édith Piaf’s lover, who was flying to a scheduled return bout with Jake “the Bronx Bull” LaMotta. But there were also 37 other passengers and 11 crew members on board, and the author seeks to redress the imbalance by reimagining several of these unknown lives for the reader, including pilot Jean de la Noüe, who flew for the Free French during World War II; Ginette Neveu, a violin prodigy who performed all over the world; Kay Kamen, a merchandiser for Walt Disney, whose biggest claim to fame was the invention of the Mickey Mouse watch; Ernest Lowenstein, a tannery owner who was on his way to New York to reconcile with his wife, whom he had divorced in Reno only one month before; and Rene Hauth, a counterespionage agent during the war. Echoing such classics as Thornton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey and Ernest K. Gann’s Fate Is the Hunter, the book dramatizes the flight and its aftermath. And the author’s metacommentary transforms the narrative into a profound meditation on the far-reaching interconnectedness of tragic events. (May)