An Atomic Romance: A Novel

By Bobbie Ann Mason

This provocative, rollicking tale is the much-anticipated new novel–the first in over a decade–from acclaimed writer Bobbie Ann Mason. In An Atomic Romance we meet Reed Futrell, a beautiful, considerate hero who grapples with radioactive illness, a midlife main issue, and string theory–all whereas falling in love.

Reed is an engineer at a uranium-enrichment plant close to a riverside urban in heartland the United States. He has deep roots during this neighborhood: He was once raised there; his father labored on the exact same plant earlier than him. And it used to be right here that Reed met, married, after which divorced his spouse. Reed spends numerous nights tenting at an area flora and fauna protect, staring at on the stars, fishing and hunting–that is, till deformed frogs are came across on the website. even though his father used to be killed in a sad twist of fate on the atomic plant years in the past, Reed remains on, proud to accomplish not easy and unsafe paintings for the advantage of the state. As for the radioactive “incidents” he has persisted, Reed prefers to consider different things–Hubble pictures of far-off galaxies, Albert Einstein, his dog.

Reed’s informal perspective towards chance infuriates his on-again-off-again female friend, Julia, up to his quirky brain and muscular physique intrigue her. Julia, a biologist, is actually Reed’s match–or possibly greater than his fit. They either are witty, curious, and occupied with technological know-how. certainly, their courtship all started with banter approximately Stephen Hawking’s theories of space-time, and ever because it has been an up-and-down experience of sexual allure, highbrow game-playing, and lengthy silences whilst Julia refuses to come back Reed’s calls.

When information stories demonstrate proof of radioactive pollutants within the land surrounding the plant, Reed and Julia’s dating faces an unheard of problem. In An Atomic Romance, Bobbie Ann Mason can provide an excellent novel set opposed to a backdrop of atomic energy: a love tale among a motorcycle-riding loner and an self sufficient, strong-minded biologist; among the peaceable found in a regular American neighborhood and the nation’s violent nuclear prior; and, eventually, among a superb guy and the paintings he is taking satisfaction in, notwithstanding it can be placing his existence in danger.

From the Hardcover edition.

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A haze of skinny clouds unfold above the horizon. a funky tinge within the air brushed his pores and skin. A coal barge was once gliding alongside, and he might see the tugboat captain on his perch. Reed had thought of that lifestyle for himself at one time, a way of dwelling with no moorings. on the levee, he was once constantly conscious of his maternal grandfather, who had labored with the military Corps of Engineers development the levees and getting ready the best way for the marching towers of electrical energy that fed the gaseous-diffusion plant. someplace alongside the levee, Boyce Reed were engaged on an erosion venture, laying willow matting alongside the banks, while he fell ailing with pneumonia. each time Reed got here right here, he used to be gripped via the imaginative and prescient of his grandfather struggling with fever and congestion whereas mendacity in his tent via the riverbank. He were within the tent for 3 days sooner than a person learned how unwell he used to be. He died in 1951, ahead of Reed used to be born. Reed knew little approximately him, a faded guy in a portrait on his mother’s mantel, so coming the following was once like a ritual connection. Reed didn't have a line of fellows he used to be just about. His father, Robert Futrell, had died younger, in 1964, while Reed used to be in simple terms six, in an twist of fate on the plant. It used to be as much as his uncles to educate him the way to be a guy. “This is the way in which your daddy consistently baited his hook,” they might say. Or, “He used to be the champion whilst it got here to muzzle loading. ” And “The Almighty broke the mildew after he made Robert Futrell. ” Reed felt he couldn’t dwell as much as his father’s attractiveness, and it took years for him to achieve that his uncles intended not anything own. within the growing to be darkness, he hiked in a timely fashion during the woods again to the spot the place he had left his motorbike. He made his camp methodically, laying out one in every of his tarps at the flooring and stringing the opposite between a few tree branches for an overhead preserve. Then he smoothed off a spot for his tent. Slamming the pegs with delight, he anchored the bottom corners, then wormed the aluminum tubes via their little cloth tunnels. His doggy tent sprang open like a flower unfolding on high-speed movie. He built a small hearth and heated a few beans, then unwrapped a bird focaccia sandwich and snapped open a can of beer. He ate, staring at the fireplace swell and switch shades. the heat used to be friendly. The air nonetheless held the mellow spring daylight hours smells of bloom and rot. the sunshine from the plant blotted out a lot of the evening, yet he may well see a faint smattering of the Milky manner and some of the brighter stars. He inspiration he can make out Sirius. He loved to visualize demise stars, their huge, immense fires imploding or exploding. He attempted, as he frequently did, to know the concept that the current second didn't exist in a few megastar 1000000 light-years off. It used to be no longer now there. now not even on Mars was once it now. If that was once real, it may be reversed, he idea. He and his hearth and his tent didn't exist from the vantage aspect of the celebrity, or on Mars, at this moment—whenever that will be. Viewing the celebrities, he consistently felt privileged to witness final secret, to be in it.

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