THE NIGHT OF THE COMET by George Bishop Jr.
Publisher Ballantine, July 30, 2013
Reminiscent of The Wonder Years, a sensitive and insightful coming-of-age story by the author of Letter to My Daughter, who Pat Conroy hailed as a “novelist to keep your eye on.”
It’s the summer of 1973 and 14-year-old Alan Broussard is navigating the chaotic and disillusioning course of adolescence: awakening to the joys of first love, learning the meaning of disappointment, and getting accustomed to the perpetual embarrassment caused by his parents. And this is especially the case when Alan’s father – his high school’s geekiest science teacher – becomes obsessed over what he predicts will be the astronomical event of the century: the arrival of Comet Kohoutek. As the sleepy town of Terrebonne, Louisiana, gets caught up in the comet craze, Alan is preoccupied by his telescope’s ability to grant him access into the world of the beautiful girl who moved into the house across the river. But what he comes to see most clearly is a reality that’s been hidden from him his entire life: his father’s inadequacies, his mother’s growing unhappiness, his sister’s struggle to find autonomy and his own loss of innocence amidst it all. Bishop pens a delicate story about growing up – both its pains and pleasures – and the idea that hope and love can be found in the stars.
“Hilarious and heart-wrenching, ethereal and earthy, The Night of the Comet points us to the fragile universe of dreams and disappointments, joy and tragedy; says here it is, all of it: feast your eyes on the magic. A heavenly book. Nobody writes about the gravitational pull of parent-child relationships—all that we yearn for and all that we can’t have–like George Bishop.”
— Minrose Gwin, author of The Queen of Palmyra
“Equally sweet and sad, The Night of the Comet is a look back at an indelible time in one family’s life together. George Bishop has crafted a fine novel of love and forgiveness.”
— Stewart O’Nan, author of Snow Angels and The Odds
“The Night of the Comet is a heartfelt bildungsroman by a novelist with a sure, light touch. In prose lucid and lovely, George Bishop shares Alan Broussard’s memories of the summer of ’73, when a comet marked the sky above Terrebonne, Louisiana, and Alan’s boyhood innocence ended. Bishop’s one of our best, and this book’s a quiet marvel.”
— Josh Russell, author of Yellow Jack and A True History of the Captivation, Transport to Strange Lands, & Deliverance of Hannah Guttentag
“George Bishop gives us a vivid, immensely readable novel, a poignant story of coming of age under the shadow of an approaching comet which seems to unsettle every formerly comfortable aspect of 14-year-old Junior Broussard’s life and family. Told in Junior’s compelling voice, The Night of the Comet is a deft, clear-eyed, and sensitive examination of the mysterious bonds of family, the allure of the unattainable, and of love and desire — and their consequences — in all their many forms.”
— Ellen Baker, author of I Gave My Heart to Know This and Keeping the House