Aloft - Chang-rae Lee This is a family drama---which usually means a "chick lit" type of book. However, make no mistake: this is a guy's book. Even more specifically, it is a middle aged guy's book. I doubt that I would have found much to interest me if I read this at 20, but at 50 it resonated as closely as stories told at a family reunion and at times I felt like an uncle grabbed me and said "Don't laugh, have you thought we could be talking about you?"

Jerry Battle would be unlikable if he weren't so honest. That is probably also why this book works. As self centered as they come, he is also a keen observer of human nature---particularly his own. Jerry has to constantly remind himself of how he SHOULD feel or act at a certain time and take himself to task for falling short. Using the imagery of flight we take a seat next to Jerry as he, in his annoyingly detached way, describes the events of his life and those of his family. Always from a safe emotional distance in the clouds. From above one can survey the devastated terrain and accurately assess the damage, but does not get one's feet dirty.

That is until both metaphorically and physically he is taken on a white knuckled ride out of those clouds and onto the ground. And into the real. Where his presence makes the pain unavoidable and and where he can finally take his place among the people in his life.

Brilliant book. At times hilarious and heart-breaking. I read slowly and found myself stopping and re-reading countless times to enjoy the beauty of a phrase or to ponder the truth of what Lee is telling us.