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The Last Flight of Poxl West
Cover of The Last Flight of Poxl West
The Last Flight of Poxl West
A Novel
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Poxl West fled the Nazis' onslaught in Czechoslovakia. He escaped their clutches again in Holland. He pulled Londoners from the Blitz's rubble. He wooed intoxicating, unconventional beauties. He rained fire on Germany from his RAF bomber.

Poxl West is the epitome of manhood and something of an idol to his teenage nephew, Eli Goldstein, who reveres him as a brave, singular, Jewish war hero. Poxl fills Eli's head with electric accounts of his derring-do, adventures and romances, as he collects the best episodes from his storied life into a memoir.

He publishes that memoir, Skylock, to great acclaim, and its success takes him on the road, and out of Eli's life. With his uncle gone, Eli throws himself into reading his opus and becomes fixated on all things Poxl.

But as he delves deeper into Poxl's history, Eli begins to see that the life of the fearless superman he's adored has been much darker than he let on, and filled with unimaginable loss from which he may have not recovered. As the truth about Poxl emerges, it forces Eli to face irreconcilable facts about the war he's romanticized and the vision of the man he's held so dear.

The Last Flight of Poxl West beautifully weaves together the two unforgettable voices of Eli Goldstein and Poxl West, exploring what it really means to be a hero, and to be a family, in the long shadow of war.

Poxl West fled the Nazis' onslaught in Czechoslovakia. He escaped their clutches again in Holland. He pulled Londoners from the Blitz's rubble. He wooed intoxicating, unconventional beauties. He rained fire on Germany from his RAF bomber.

Poxl West is the epitome of manhood and something of an idol to his teenage nephew, Eli Goldstein, who reveres him as a brave, singular, Jewish war hero. Poxl fills Eli's head with electric accounts of his derring-do, adventures and romances, as he collects the best episodes from his storied life into a memoir.

He publishes that memoir, Skylock, to great acclaim, and its success takes him on the road, and out of Eli's life. With his uncle gone, Eli throws himself into reading his opus and becomes fixated on all things Poxl.

But as he delves deeper into Poxl's history, Eli begins to see that the life of the fearless superman he's adored has been much darker than he let on, and filled with unimaginable loss from which he may have not recovered. As the truth about Poxl emerges, it forces Eli to face irreconcilable facts about the war he's romanticized and the vision of the man he's held so dear.

The Last Flight of Poxl West beautifully weaves together the two unforgettable voices of Eli Goldstein and Poxl West, exploring what it really means to be a hero, and to be a family, in the long shadow of war.

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Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Torday's inaugural audiobook is a masterful story of a WWII hero, performed with precision by narrator Aaron Abano. Ostensibly the biography of RAF bomber pilot Poxl West, the novel approaches his complex fictional life both from the present and from the perspective of his memoir, thus allowing listeners to glimpse both sides of a man with a far darker side than is apparent from his own story. Abano's performance is as exceptional as the book. His adept use of accents, coupled with an uncanny delivery, allows listeners to submerge themselves in the complex character Torday has created. The result is an extraordinary story of courage counterbalanced by a gripping story of suspense. D.J.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 12, 2015
    Torday introduces readers to Poxl West, whose bestselling 1980s memoir Skylock is the book within this riveting debut novel. Eighteen-year-old Poxl fled his native Czechoslovakia for Rotterdam when Hitler rolled into Austria, never to see his parents again. As the war progressed, he made his way to London, eventually flying bombers in the RAF. Those impossibly difficult war years unfold over five acts, which constitute the Shylock part of the structure and which alternate with the narrative of Elijah Goldstein, Poxl’s young nephew. Torday’s descriptive and powerful prose stands as the book’s highlight. The book-within-a-book memoir is a page-turner, particularly as Poxl remembers his mother and father and their marriage, and his time in London during the Blitz. 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.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from December 1, 2014
    Elijah Goldstein's devoted Uncle Poxl is a Jewish World War II fighter pilot and an overnight literary sensation. What more could a boy want?While Torday (The Sensualist: A Novella, 2012) is more likely to be compared to Philip Roth or Michael Chabon than Gillian Flynn, his debut novel has two big things in common with Gone Girl-it's a story told in two voices, and it's almost impossible to discuss without revealing spoilers. The reversal that defines this novel arrives late and changes the meaning of everything that's come before, but that's all you'll hear about it here. One of the two narrators is Elijah Goldstein, a 15-year-old student in Boston, who begins his tale, promisingly, like this: "Before halftime on Super Bowl Sunday, January 1986, my uncle Poxl came over. He was just months from reaching the height of his fame, and unaware that the game was being played." This fame results from publication of Skylock: The Memoir of a Jewish RAF Bomber, which Uncle Poxl has read aloud to Eli in manuscript over sundaes at Cabot's after outings to the opera and the symphony. The entire text of Skylock appears here as a book within a book. Poxl's memoir opens with his childhood in Czechoslovakia, where he's the son of a wealthy leather-factory owner and a bohemian mother who poses nude for Egon Schiele. When the Anschluss begins, his parents send him to Rotterdam, where he falls hard for a prostitute. His next move takes him to London, where he joins the war effort and ultimately flies a bomber in a firefight over Hamburg. After each section of the memoir, Eli returns to fill us in on reviews in the Times and the Economist, the book signings and the things we will not be discussing in this review. A richly layered, beautifully told and somehow lovable story about war, revenge and loss.

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    October 15, 2014
    Winner of the 2012 National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction for his novella, "The Sensualist", Torday here ups the odds with writing that's making everyone in-house stop and stare. Elijah Goldstein worships his worldly Uncle Poxl, but when Poxl's memoir reveals that he escaped his Czech home after his parents' death to become an RAF pilot and bomb German citizens to smithereens, Elijah begins to recognize his uncle as a darkly pained individual.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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The Last Flight of Poxl West
A Novel
Daniel Torday
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