Coffee House Press, 2016
Agent: Elise Capron
In this engaging new novel by the author of Netsuke, a child nomad claims a college campus as his territory and lives a transient life among the intellectuals. Keenly observant, imaginative, and curious, he grows up to finally infiltrate the lives of those he's watched for years, posing as (or perhaps more aptly, becoming) Charter, a Fulbright scholar with a predilection for fire. Comfortable in his new identity, he becomes enamored with Asthma, a professor's child in whom he sees a lot of himself. When Charter's identity is finally called into question, and he's confronted with the knowledge that Asthma might, in turn, be someone else, the world he's created threatens to shatter.
"A dark, elliptical fairy tale of a novel...Ms. Ducornet's novel about a man 'who cannot fathom the bottomless secret of his own existence' casts a lingering spell."
—New York Times
"Capturing the warp and woof of childhood, even in a vessel as elastic as literature, is no easy task. [Ducornet's] ability to navigate that twilight land betweeen youthful fantasy and world-weary adulthood is, alone, worth the cost of admission. With this thematic concern, Ducornet, a two-time winner of the Lannan Award for Fiction, has found the perfect scaffolding for her rich, darkly tinged lyricism."
—Los Angeles Times
“Like poetry, the novel’s central aims are to revel in language and investigate the innver lives of characters who see a world that is more numinous than the people around them can recognize…an endless delight…”
“Duconet has written the oddest of varsity novels, oe that anchors its charming caprice, philosophical fancy, and thriller-like pace to the psychological horror that lurks just beyond childhood innocence.”