Mark Perdue has so many problems that when he starts feeling chest pains on the tarmac at LAX, it dawns on him that a heart attack might be an efficient way out. Once an eminent physicist, he hasn’t published or had a new idea in a decade. The younger professors at UC Berkeley pity him, and he’s taken to using the back staircases to avoid their looks, which all seem to be labeling him dead weight. At home, his wife has been inconsolable since the recent late-term abortion of their afflicted fetus. And he can’t deny it any longer—he is decidedly losing his mental faculties to chronic Lyme disease.
Now Mark is visiting Los Angeles with his ambitious daughter, Carlotta, so she can attend a “Celebrity Fantasy Vacation,” in which she is promised three days and two nights of the rock star lifestyle (musical talent not required, promises the brochure). On stage, Carlotta sings her way to a new self-confidence, giving Mark a glimmer of joy in her sense of victory. But then she disappears with her newly acquired paraplegic boyfriend to take an excursion to the Hollywood sign and gets them all arrested, Mark included. Mark now faces a night in jail—and maybe a hint of what he really needs to be happy.
“Every word of this short novel is relevant. Brilliant, actually.”
“This is Jones’s fourth novel (his prior three novels were all New York Times Notable Books), and his sentences and language shine. Radiance is entertaining, profoundly meditative, and quietly moving. Jones is an astute chronicler of the intimate and the interior, keenly recording delicate shifts in feeling and tone. And Radiance manages to come together in a wistful ending that somehow reads as both solid and porous, sustaining this reader with a satisfaction and calm born of uncertainty.”
—Victoria Patterson in Three Guys One Book
“In Louis B. Jones, as in no other writer working today, a sense of moral outrage, that rare thing, is yoked, oddly and with extraordinary power, to a thrilling gift for lyrical prose.”
—Michael Chabon, author of Kavalier and Clay