Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Age of Perpetual Light

by Josh Weil

A dazzling new work that spans eight stories of light, human progress, and the search for a better life from Josh Weil, one of “the most gifted writers of his generation” (Colum McCann), winner of the Sue Kaufman Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Page Count 272
  • Publication Date September 12, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2701-3
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $25.00
  • Imprint Grove Hardcover
  • Publication Date September 12, 2017
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-8877-9
  • US List Price $25.00

About the Book

Following his debut Dayton Literary Peace Prize-winning novel, The Great Glass Sea, Josh Weil brings together stories selected from a decade of work in a stellar new collection. Beginning at the dawn of the past century, in the early days of electrification, and moving into an imagined future in which the world is lit day and night, The Age of Perpetual Light follows deeply-felt characters through different eras in American history: from a Jewish dry goods peddler who falls in love with an Amish woman while showing her the wonders of an Edison Lamp, to a 1940 farmers’ uprising against the unfair practices of a power company; a Serbian immigrant teenage boy in 1990’s Vermont desperate to catch a glimpse of an experimental satellite, to a back-to-the-land couple forced to grapple with their daughter’s autism during winter’s longest night.

Brilliantly hewn and piercingly observant, these are tales that speak to the all-too-human desire for advancement and the struggle of wounded hearts to find a salve, no matter what the cost. This is a breathtaking book from one of our brightest literary lights.

“A storyteller of the first order.” —Joshua Ferris

“Josh Weil is a spectacular talent.” —Lauren Groff

Tags Literary

“Author of the widely acclaimed debut novel The Great Glass Sea, Weil delivers a collection of eight stellar short stories, several bordering on novella length. As with his first book of short fiction, New Valley, Weil returns to themes of isolation and desire, this time threading a thematic brightness throughout, taking on electrification, modernity, and illumination in myriad forms. . . . Whether it takes place in the nineteenth-century countryside or a not-too-distant future, each one of Weil’s magical, memorable stories carries ‘this charge in all our hearts, this flash that fires in us even now, this spark that drives us ever forward.’” —Booklist (starred review)

“This collection blends the evolving technology of light with its multifaceted impact on people’s lives. The characters and settings are crafted with an ethereal skill that sets the mind spinning into new orbits . . . Highly recommended for the discerning reader.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“A rich, often dazzling collection of short stories linked by themes while ranging widely in style from Babel-like fables to gritty noir and sci-fi. . . . engrossing, persuasively detailed and written with a deep affection for the way language can, in masterful hands, convey us to marvelous new worlds.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Weil showcases his narrative abilities in these offbeat and spirited stories . . . 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.” —Publishers Weekly

The Age of Perpetual Light burns in the imagination like a set of lanterns, illuminating rare human spaces in the darkness of history. Weil is an immense talent, a writer who can craft convincing characters, with distinct voice and ethos, and also elevate narrative language to a level of poetry . . . What makes Weil a writer of the highest caliber is the intimacy he constructs between his characters . . . The Age of Perpetual Light is the result of an original mind working at the nexus of known history and poetic imagination. The collection is luminous throughout, its impressions and insights into the human condition coalescing like wondrous heat on a cold night.” —Shelf Awareness

“How much wattage does it take to illuminate the darkest corners of the human heart? In eight complex, luminous and light bearing stories, and with endless compassion for his superbly drawn characters, Josh Weil has the audacity to ask such a question, knowing full well that the answer may be: more than we have ever, or will ever have.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted

“Josh Weil is a lamplighter, the best possible kind. He moves us into each of these earthy, elegant stories and suddenly the light changes in ways we couldn’t have imagined. The Age of Perpetual Light is a special book woven with generosity and grit as it works against the dark to take the true measure of kinship.” —Ron Carlson

Praise for The Great Glass Sea:

“[A] fascinating debut novel . . . The Great Glass Sea is not an alternative history . . . but a fantastical vision inspired by bits and pieces of Russian language history, and culture. It is beautifully baffled by the mysterious Russian soul.” —New York Times Book Review

“Moving and sensitive . . . evokes the mythic feel of a contemporary classic. There’s pathos and tension . . . breathtaking brilliance. Weil’s greatest gift to the reader: a deep understanding of family, personal loss and the abiding love between siblings.” —Los Angeles Times

“Captivating. A kind of sweeping historical fable . . . superbly drawn.” —Associated Press

“Brilliant. . . the book has the heartbeat of a fable, and plays out in the rhythms of a story told for generations. The resultant feeling is that of being on someone’s knee while hearing this magnificent tale.” —The Rumpus.com

“An ambitious and richly imagined debut novel.” —Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“The most unexpected second book by a writer of note to appear in years . . . A grand fable . . . an absorbing and touching tale . . . Few young writers appreciate landscape, the way it shapes and diminishes people who live off it, quite like Weil . . . an engrossing story of brotherly division.” —Boston Globe

Excerpt

I’m behind the barn, splitting burnwood, when I see the bear coming for our daughter. It’s December, dusk. At my back: high piles of cut rounds. Out in the field: the bucked trees stacked, their drag marks dark in all the snow, the pines looking almost black beyond. And between their trunks: a patch of true black moving. Everything else is still—the stone wall, the glass greenhouse, the sledding hill behind our home, packed hard by the weight of my wife and daughter gone down run after run—except a spot of orange: Orly in her snowsuit. Rolling snow boulders. Down by the old stone wall at the edge of the woods. Beneath the splitter’s rumble, the shaking of the pine boughs is a silent ripple washing steadily towards her.

For a second I can feel her in my hands—the heft of her when I first pick her up, my arms strained with her struggling—and then it’s just the log again and Orly is out there, suddenly standing straight up, staring into the trees. Her hands are bare—she will not suffer gloves, shucks mittens as soon as she thinks she’s out of sight—her fingers stained so bright by markers I can see them slowly curling towards her palms. She takes a snowsuit-stiffened step. Another. The first time we zipped her into the hunter’s camouflage, I crouched down, winked. Hey bub, I said, get me a beer, eh? Bess laughed. But Orly only asked, Who’s Bub? And when I poked her bright orange belly with a wriggly finger, my wife said, Ev, the way I knew meant Stop.