Celestial Mechanics

Celestial Mechanics : A Tale for a Mid-Winter Night

3.7 (81 ratings by Goodreads)
3.7 (81 ratings by Goodreads)
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Finalist, 2017 Foreword Reviews Indie Book Awards for Adult Fiction

When Silas Fortunato applies for an editorial position for the "spirituality" section of a local newspaper, he is asked to fill in a bubble sheet to mark his religion. The problem is, his beliefs don't fall within any of the categories. Silas believes that selflessness enlarges vision and that what a person should strive for is to be overcome by the beyond. He believes in honoring otherness and in giving questions credence over certainty. He calls himself a Cosmoterian because his goal is to make himself worthy of the majesty of Cosmos. Silas is a man driven by big ideas, but it is the everyday smallness that perpetually both intrigues and eludes him.

In this emotional tale of haunted love, Silas finds himself locked in a marriage descending toward darkness until the arrival of his sister-in-law and soon thereafter the appearance of a witching neighbor who may or may not be alive. In ways enigmatic, ghostly, and funny, the three women draw him into the equivocal nature of dreams and reality, their influences leading Silas on a journey toward what may be light and a new belonging to something vastly beyond himself.

Just as William Least Heat-Moon's nonfiction employs many fictional narrative techniques, Celestial Mechanics draws upon nonfictional devices to build a story that crosses traditional boundaries between the two. Celestial Mechanics is the clarion call of a generation that believes rationality and spirituality can--and should--coexist, a generation defined by globalization, where the only things left unknown are what is within and beyond us, those cosmic realms revealed by the telescope and the quantum world suggested by the microscope. This book is for those of us steeped in a hustle-and-bustle world we can't escape, who believe that practices like mindfulness and rational deduction and childlike wonder are the keys to the kind of fulfillment that the commercial aspects of our lives can never hope to address.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 400 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 38.1mm | 748.43g
  • United States
  • English
  • 1941110568
  • 9781941110560
  • 1,769,251

Review quote

Finalist, 2017 Indie Book Awards for Adult Fiction, Foreword Reviews

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. . . . This thought-provoking novel is rife with relatable and complex musings. Charming illustrations and quotes from songs and plays abound, rounding out the package. --Publishers Weekly

"Philosophically rich story line. . . . An entrancing journey toward deeper insight into the cosmos, an exploration readers will share and savor with every masterfully crafted sentence. Highly recommended for fans of Heat-Moon and readers who enjoy philosophical fiction." --ALA Booklist

The author of the best-selling travel memoir Blue Highways makes his fiction debut with this erudite novel that touches on a multitude of areas, including science, theology, philosophy, and psychiatry. . . . Definitely for fans of philosophical novels and Least Heat-Moon's nonfiction." -- --Library Journal

"An erudite, sophisticated, inherently engaging, and unfailingly entertaining read from beginning to end, Celestial Mechanics is unreservedly recommended." --Able Greenspan, Midwest Book Review

A road trip of souls. . . . William Least-Heat Moon has taken a story of people making choices incompatible with their own desires and natures and given us a travelogue of the spirit. The trajectories of these three people, each one trying to find their place in a cosmos crowded with distraction and uncertainty, reveal the geography of the self and the gravity of choice. In the end we're offered a map of roads oft-traveled and too little remarked on the journey to hope." --The Proximal Eye

"Engaging, employing nonfictional devices to build a story that crosses the traditional boundaries of 'rationality and spirituality', Celestial Mechanics is a unique and extraordinary novel that is as entertaining as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. As mysterious and stirring as a midnight snowfall, Celestial Mechanics invites the reader to ponder their role in the Universe along with the truth-seeking protagonist. Author William Least Heat-Moon is a novelist with a genuine flair for original and deftly crafted storytelling." --Midwest Review of Books

"A haunting love story that oscillates between dream and reality." --Stay Thirsty Media

"Heat-Moon's facility with language remains impressive and undiminished." --St. Louis Post Dispatch

"A complex and layered story. . . . The writing is lively and rewards the thoughtful, deliberate reader." --Missouri Life

"A tour de force . . . Many readers will experience what I have experienced -- expanding the mind to grasp what the author is teaching through his fiction." --Columbia Daily Tribune

Focuses on disconnecting from modern technology and thinking about larger ideas. --NPR (KBIA)

"A sprawling, fantastical work about a man's spiritual journey, Celestial Mechanics is the first novel by William Least Heat-Moon, who is well-known for his best-selling Blue Highways. CELESTIAL MECHANICS is imaginative work about a man's quest for true connection." --Foreword Reviews

"Both a journey and the musings of a philosophical mind." --Kirkus Reviews
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About William Least Heat-Moon

WILLIAM LEAST HEAT-MOON, pen name of William Trogdon, is of English, Irish, and Osage ancestry. He lives in Missouri on an old tobacco farm he's returning to forest. His first book, Blue Highways, tells of a 13,000-mile journey around America on back roads. His second work, PrairyErth, is a narrative exploration into a corner of the great tallgrass prairie in eastern Kansas. River-Horse gives an account of his four-month sea-to-sea voyage across the United States on rivers, lakes, and canals. In Roads to Quoz, Heat-Moon sets out for a half-dozen American destinations that have long intrigued him. Here, There, Elsewhere brings together a collection of his short-form reportage about places around the world. His five major books and the recent Writing Blue Highways have never been out of print. Celestial Mechanics is his first novel.
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Rating details

81 ratings
3.7 out of 5 stars
5 23% (19)
4 41% (33)
3 23% (19)
2 7% (6)
1 5% (4)
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