THE NIGHT OF THE COMET
IN STORES NOW · FROM BALLANTINE BOOKS
A KIRKUS REVIEWS “BEST BOOK OF 2013”
From the acclaimed author of Letter to My Daughter—hailed by Pat Conroy as “a novelist to keep your eye on”—comes this engrossing coming-of-age tale that deftly conveys the hopes and heartaches of adolescence, and the unfulfilled dreams that divide a family, played out against the backdrop of a small southern town in 1973.
For his fourteenth birthday, Alan Broussard, Jr., receives a telescope from his father, a science teacher at the local high school who’s anxiously awaiting what he promises will be the astronomical event of the century: the coming of Comet Kohoutek. For Alan Broussard, Sr.—frustrated in his job, remote from his family—the comet is a connection to his past and a bridge to his son, with whom he’s eager to share his love for the stars.
But the only heavenly body Junior has any interest in is his captivating new neighbor and classmate, Gabriella Martello, whose bedroom sits within eyeshot of his telescope’s lens. Meanwhile, his mother Lydia sees the comet—and her husband’s obsession with it—as one more thing that keeps her from the bigger, brighter life she once imagined for herself far from the swampy environs of Terrebonne, Louisiana. With Kohoutek drawing ever closer, the family begins to crumble under the weight of expectations, until a startling turn of events will leave both father and son much less certain about the laws that govern their universe.
Illuminating and unforgettable, The Night of the Comet is a novel about the perils of growing up, the longing for connection, and the idea that love and redemption can be found among the stars.
PRAISE & REVIEWS
“This lyrical family saga twinkles with bittersweet humanity . . . Bishop does a heavenly job telescoping the heady promise of youth tinged with the sorrow of lost dreams.”
“This latest from the talented Bishop brings stardust and domestic disillusionment to the bayous of Louisiana . . . Coming-of-age novels examine youthful revelations about the world—filled with cynicism and wonder and rearranged expectations—and the quality hinges on the honesty of the voice, the truth of the observations, the handling of innocence lost; Bishop succeeds on all these fronts. A fine story of everyday sadness and otherworldly joys.”
—KIRKUS REVIEWS, “BEST BOOKS OF 2013”
“Resonant . . . explores the complexities of a father-son relationship through science, astronomy, and the growing pains of adolescence. . . . Bishop’s characterizations of young Alan’s mother, father, and sister Megan are endearing and their relentless coddling of their maturing son is wincingly accurate.”
“Bishop’s stunningly crafted coming-of-age novel of yearning, devotion and choices will bring readers back to their own first love. The time period is captured brilliantly and the story is hauntingly realistic. As if the outstanding plot and lovingly developed characters weren’t enough, the book is interspersed with enough fascinating nuggets about astronomy and sky watching that it wouldn’t be surprising if it sparked a run on telescopes after its release.”
“A quiet, occasionally bittersweet novel about the differences between desire and disappointment, expectation and reality.”
“The comet in question is Kohoutek, which for people coming of age in the 1970s caused some hoopla. In Bishopʼs funny and endearing follow-up to his novel ‘Letter to My Daughter,’ Alan Broussard Jr. gets a telescope for his 14th birthday from his amateur astronomer dad, a science teacher at the high school in their Louisiana bayou town. But Junior is less interested in Kohoutek than in lovely Gabriella Martello, whose family lives in a mansion within telescope view — with a lifestyle that catches the attention of Juniorʼs mom.”
—NEW YORK POST “Required Reading”
“‘Comet’ combines the best writing I’ve seen in a long time of coming of age, midlife crises and the ‘quiet’–or not so quiet–desperation that Thoreau wrote of. Bishop’s prose is good writing, serious but liberally seasoned with a sense of humor.”
—HUNTINGTON NEWS (WV)
“Author George Bishop paints an intimate portrait of an unraveling family as Comet Kohoutek comes crashing through their lives in his second novel . . . Part coming-of-age story, part family saga, ‘The Night of the Comet’ is sweet and sad, heartbreaking and uplifting. It also provides a wealth of information on astronomy and the stars. The night sky looms in the background, like another character in the story.”
—THE FREE LANCE-STAR (Fredericksburg, VA)
“In his new novel, ‘The Night of the Comet,’ George Bishop builds a Bildungsroman upon the arrival of Kohoutek, using it as a metaphor for life’s expectations, mysteries, glories and disappointments . . . Alan is an appealing character who embodies the poignant hopes and fantasies and fears of a young man caught by love’s gravity.”
—THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
“‘The Night of the Comet’ offers a snapshot of a moment in time and then fills in all the back story of the circumstances preceding it. A coming-of-age tale liberally dusted with starry trappings, the book perfectly captures the interminable feeling of high school—how the days drag and the future looms yet seems as if it will never come—as well as the heightened sense of drama that suffuse events at the time, as first loves and infatuations take on near-cosmic importance.”
—THE SAN FRANCISCO CITY BOOK REVIEW
“Bishop . . . proves eloquent at delineating teenaged angst and yearning . . . He’s also acute on middle-age discontent, the realization that there’s no point in dreaming about what you’ll do when you grow up, because you’re already there, and that your life, miserable as it is, is as good as it’s likely to get.”
—THE WILMINGTON STAR NEWS (NC)
“Equally sweet and sad, The Night of the Comet is a look back at an indelible time in one family’s life together. George Bishop has crafted a fine novel of love and forgiveness.”
—STEWART O’NAN, author of Snow Angels and The Odds
“Hilarious and heart-wrenching, ethereal and earthy, The Night of the Comet points us to the fragile universe of dreams and disappointments, joy and tragedy; says here it is, all of it: feast your eyes on the magic. A heavenly book. Nobody writes about the gravitational pull of parent-child relationships—all that we yearn for and all that we can’t have—like George Bishop.”
—MINROSE GWIN, author of The Queen of Palmyra
“The Night of the Comet is a heartfelt bildungsroman by a novelist with a sure, light touch. In prose lucid and lovely, George Bishop shares Alan Broussard’s memories of the summer of ’73, when a comet marked the sky above Terrebonne, Louisiana, and Alan’s boyhood innocence ended. Bishop’s one of our best, and this book’s a quiet marvel.”
—JOSH RUSSELL, author of Yellow Jack and A True History of the Captivation, Transport to Strange Lands, & Deliverance of Hannah Guttentag
“George Bishop gives us a vivid, immensely readable novel, a poignant story of coming of age under the shadow of an approaching comet which seems to unsettle every formerly comfortable aspect of 14-year-old Junior Broussard’s life and family. Told in Junior’s compelling voice, The Night of the Comet is a deft, clear-eyed, and sensitive examination of the mysterious bonds of family, the allure of the unattainable, and of love and desire—and their consequences—in all their many forms.
—ELLEN BAKER, author of I Gave My Heart to Know This and Keeping the House