Charles Bock

A hot-buzz author’s rhapsodic debut novel

Three Sundays ago, Charles Bock got the glowing profile treatment from Charles McGrath in The New York Times Magazine. The following Sunday, Bock’s debut novel, Beautiful Children, was the cover subject for The New York Times Book Review. One is first inclined to believe that his publicist is in bed with the arts staff of that hallowed “fact factory,” but truth is he’s the kind of debut novelist the media dig getting excited over (one also hopes Bock’s the kind with none-too-jealous writer friends). So far, I’m only one-quarter of the way through Children, but I’ll tell you what I know for sure: the novel revolves around a 12-year-old boy’s disappearance into the Las Vegas desert and how that reverberates through an ensemble cast of strangers. Also, Bock’s prose seems to have written itself, and contains at least one beautiful passage about Las Vegas: “The neon. The halogen. The viscous liquid light. Thousands of millions of watts, flowing through letters of looping cursive and semi-cursive, filling then emptying, then starting over again. Waves of electricity, emanating from pop-art facades, actually transforming the nature of the atmosphere, creating a mutation of night, a night that is not night—daytime at night.” There is a freshness, an incandescence, about the book overall that echoes debuts such as Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything Is Illuminated, or perhaps more closely, Sean Wilsey’s Oh, the Glory of It All. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, 7:30 p.m. BRIAN J. BARR

Tue., Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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