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Nine Shiny Objects: A Novel (Hardcover)

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"In this extraordinary novel, Castleberry brilliantly hopscotches from person to person, from era to era, while somehow making all this fancy footwork look effortless and essential." - Jenny Offill, author of Department of Speculation and Weather

A luminous debut novel in the tradition of DeLillio and Egan, chronicling the eerily intersecting lives of a series of American dreamers whose unforeseen links reveal the divided heart of a haunted nation—and the battered grace that might lead to its salvation

June 26, 1947. Headlines across America report the sighting of nine pulsating lights flying over the Cascade Mountains at speeds surpassing any aircraft. In Chicago, inspired by the news, Oliver Danville, a failed actor now reduced to a mediocre pool hustler, hitchhikes west in a fever-dream quest for a possible sign from above that might illuminate his true calling. A chance encounter with Saul Penrod, an Idaho farmer, and his family sets in motion the birth of “the Seekers”—a collective of outcasts, interlopers, and idealists devoted to creating a society where divisions of race, ethnicity, and sexuality are a thing of the past. When Claudette Donen, a waitress on the lam from her suffocating family, encounters the group, she is compulsively drawn to Oliver’s sister Eileen, but before she is able to join the enigmatic community, it has vanished.

Reunited across the country, the Seekers attempt to settle in the suburbs of Long Island. One night, their purpose suddenly revealed, a stranger emerges, and a horrific crime ensues. In the decades that follow, the perpetrators, survivors, and their children will be forced to face the consequences of what happened—a reckoning that will involve Charlie Ranagan, a traveling salesman; Max Felt, a dissolute late-1960s rock star; Alice Linwood, an increasingly paranoid radio host; Stanley West, a struggling African American poet; Marly Feldberg, a Greenwich Village painter; and Debbie Vasquez, a Connecticut teenager trapped by an avalanche of midnight legacies. Each will prove to be a piece of a puzzle that, when assembled, reveals a shocking truth about the clash between the optimism of those who seek inspiration from spacious skies, and the venom of others who relish the underworld—not only via conspiratorial maneuverings, but the literal unearthing of the dead. The result is one of the most exciting, and unforgettable, debut novels in recent memory, and the launch of a major career in American letters.

About the Author


Brian Castleberry's stories have been published in The Southern Review, Day One, Narrative, and other literary journals. He lives in Virginia, where he teaches literature and creative writing at the College of William & Mary.

Praise For…


"In this extraordinary novel, Castleberry brilliantly hopscotches from person to person, from era to era, while somehow making all this fancy footwork look effortless and essential."
— Jenny Offill, author of Department of Speculation and Weather

“Sharply-tuned, funny, satisfyingly strange, and preternaturally poised, unspooling in immaculate prose. Brian Castleberry has that rare, can’t-be-taught ability to turn smoothly at any point in any direction, giving each sentence, no matter how casual, a quiet current of electric suspense.”
— William Finnegan, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Barbarian Days

"Impressive... Memorable characters inhabit a surprising, engaging story of American idealism and its dark opposite."
— Kirkus Reviews

“Scrappy and smart, intently observed and often darkly funny, these people navigate lives where everyday struggle and pleasure ride precariously on a deep undercurrent of menace.”
— Chelsey Johnson, author of Stray City

"The truly shining objects are the nine stories that make up this gripping, shapeshifting novel. A debut out of this world."
— Hernan Diaz, author of In the Distance

"When, in 1947, a Navy pilot reports that he’s seen nine shiny objects flying over the Cascade Mountains, he sets off a chain reaction that affects nine characters, whose lives intersect in remarkable ways over the course of the following four decades. What Castleberry has written is not a novel about UFOs or cults or rock-and-roll but rather a literary saga that dauntlessly explores what it takes to believe."
— Rachel Beanland, author of Florence Adler Swims Forever


Product Details
ISBN: 9780062984395
ISBN-10: 006298439X
Publisher: Custom House
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Pages: 336
Language: English