Fifteen-year-old Eli idolizes his surrogate 'Uncle' Poxl, both as a war hero who flew bombers over Hamburg--a Nazi-killing Jew--and as an urbane professor who introduced him to the arts and read his manuscript to him. When Poxl's memoir Skylock: Memoir of a Jewish R.A.F. Bomber becomes an 'instant classic' Eli is proud the book is dedicated to him. In the midst of the hoopla over the book, and his subsequent fall from grace, Uncle Poxl disappears from his life leaving Eli with anger and questions.
Poxl's memoir is sandwiched between Eli's story line. Poxl was interesting and complex; he endures great losses during the war. He has been a widower for twenty years. He finds in Eli a surrogate child, but one he abandons. Eli is an appealing voice.
The book deals with a number of interesting issues regarding the fine line between memoir and literature and the ethical and literary implications of manipulating fact and fiction.
Poxl's decision to wordlessly abandon his war time lover can be seen as the self-centered impetus of youth, eager to fight Nazis and avenge his parent's deaths, or his mistrust resulting from accidentally learning of his mother's infidelity.
I did not like the ending; after the war Poxl searches for the woman he abandoned and then pushes himself into her new life. SPOILER ALERT: his desire to make love to Francoise one more time seemed less about love and romance than once putting his selfish needs over another's best interest. But if I look at things another way, perhaps less as a woman and more as a guy, it is his desperate clinging to the last vestige of the life he has lost. After all, the book begins by Poxl telling us that this book was about love, not war.
I received a free ebook through NetGalley for a fair and unbiased review.
The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday
St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: March 17, 2015