cover image Celestial Mechanics

Celestial Mechanics

William Least Heat-Moon. Three Rooms, $28 (400p) ISBN 978-1-941110-56-0

In his fiction debut, Heat-Moon (Blue Highways) stages philosophical and spiritual debates in an elegant story of one man’s search for meaning in the cosmos. In an unnamed present-day American university town, Silas Fortunado is a freethinking religion columnist for a newspaper. Not restrained by sectarian religion, he calls himself a Cosmoterian and says he doesn’t react to life but rather interacts with it. Four women shape his spiritual and emotional journey: his ambitious real estate agent wife, Dominique, who fixates on slights and expectations; his sister-in-law, Celeste, a nun aspirant with a crisis of faith; his shrouded neighbor, Kyzmyt, a Caddo herbalist and Wiccan; and seed-seller Flora Cavendish. Through anecdotes of everyday life and a search through Phoenix and Las Vegas for the missing Dominique, Silas contemplates nature, astronomy, the definition of God, evolution, Native American spirituality, intolerance, and lucid dreaming. As Celeste nurses him after a devastating accident, they discuss mortality and the meaning of self. This thought-provoking novel is rife with relatable and complex musings. Charming illustrations and quotes from songs and plays abound, rounding out the package. (Apr.)