Crash-Landing is an exploration of modern day fear and failure. Its subject is self-delusion and self-fulfillment, sexual entanglements and midlife anxiety, marriage and existential loneliness.
Named after Lindbergh, his parents' hero, Charles Burg has neither the requisite head for heights nor the stomach to go it alone. Though destined for a fall, he contrives—by never looking down—to keep his marriage to Anne aloft through years of circling, of buffeting crosswinds, instrument failure, and near collisions. When the crackup finally comes, the touchdown is not tragic, flaming wreck, but a nose-in-the-mud return to ground zero.
Both survive the forced landing. Anne comes through better: she manages to walk away from the wreckage. Chuck crawls off, emotionally grounded. We last see him fleeing across the Atlantic, winging toward an eighty-day crash cure at a rehabilitation camp for bereaved ex-husbands "some twenty kilometers south of Breat."
Or rather, that is the reader's first glimpse of this comedy's anti-hero, for events unfold in reverse order appearance—from the crackup back to the passionate beginning that led to the marriage. The story's counter-chronological movement gives the reader foresight, while Chuck, its first-person narrator, remains, happily or ironically, unaware of the laws of physics that govern the all too short duration of love's flight.
"A very funny and human [novel] about midlife crisis" —Booklist
"Alternately full of pathos and dark comedy." —Publisher's Weekly
Despite my irrational misgivings, it started innocently enough—the anticipation of small pleasures, a visit to the theater to be followed by a late snack and drinks; the strangely silent bus ride up the ice-bound avenue; my wind-propelled race cross-town, bone-chilling but stimulating, as if I were on ice skates rather than an earth-bound pedestrian. But once I spun through the revolving door into the lobby of the Innovation Theatre Club and stood facing the box office, from that moment on, I knew that I had walked into something! Nothing meant to maim. No, something closer to a sand trap. The fall guy stumbles, slips, takes a pratfall, but breaks no bones, has nothing to complain about afterwards without sounding petulant.