Debut author Daniel Torday is receiving positive attention for his upcoming novel “The Last Flight of Poxl West.”
“Poxl,” which is being released on March 17, tells the story of teenager Eli Goldstein, who loves the stories of his uncle Poxl and his daring World War II exploits. After Poxl publishes his memoir, Eli begins to explore his uncle’s life more and realizes that all is not what it seems.
The book was named as one of Amazon’s 10 best books of March and Amazon editorial director Sara Nelson called it “surprising.” “The boy [Eli] has this really charming voice,” she said.
“What keeps this story from devolving into sentimental or predictable melodrama is Mr. Torday’s instinctive understanding of Eli, his ability to convey both Eli’s childhood craving for a hero and role model, and his grown-up apprehension of the complexities of truth,” Kakutani wrote. She noted that “[Poxl’s] fall… seems apparent to the reader nearly from the novel’s start, though it comes as a terrible shock to young Eli” and that “often does seem informed by earlier controversies like James Frey’s admission that he’d made up details of his life.” However, Kakutani wrote that “’The Last Flight’ provides both a touching, old-fashioned drama about war and love and a more modern framing tale that makes us rethink the impulses behind storytelling, and the toll that self-dramatization can take not only on practitioners but also on those who believe and cherish their fictions… Mr. Torday [has the] ability to shift gears between sweeping historical vistas and more intimate family dramas, and between old-school theatrics and more contemporary meditations on the nature of storytelling.”
Meanwhile, Publishers Weekly found the book to be “riveting.”
“Torday’s descriptive and powerful prose stands as the book’s highlight,” PW staff wrote. “The book-within-a-book memoir is a page-turner… His fixation and guilt over the love he left behind in Rotterdam, though, nearly devolves into navel gazing. The author recalibrates his character’s self-indulgence in time for Skylock to end on a poignant note. Elijah’s chapters culminate with him looking at his uncle through more mature eyes. Torday’s restraint as this story line takes on new importance shows mastery of his craft, culminating with a tender ending to Elijah’s narrative.”