This provocative, rollicking story is the much-anticipated new novel–the first in over a decade–from acclaimed author Bobbie Ann Mason. In An Atomic Romance we meet Reed Futrell, a sexy, thoughtful hero who grapples with radioactive contamination, a midlife crisis, and string theory–all while falling in love.
Reed is an engineer at a uranium-enrichment plant near a riverside city in heartland America. He has deep roots in this community: He was raised there; his father worked at the very same plant before him. And it was here that Reed met, married, and then divorced his wife. Reed spends countless nights camping at a local wildlife preserve, gazing at the stars, fishing and hunting–that is, until deformed frogs are discovered at the site. Though his father was killed in a tragic accident at the atomic plant years ago, Reed stays on, proud to perform demanding and dangerous work for the benefit of the nation. As for the radioactive “incidents” he has endured, Reed prefers to think about other things–Hubble photographs of distant galaxies, Albert Einstein, his dog.
Reed’s casual attitude toward danger infuriates his on-again-off-again girlfriend, Julia, as much as his quirky mind and muscular body intrigue her. Julia, a biologist, is truly Reed’s match–or maybe more than his match. They both are witty, curious, and fascinated by science. Indeed, their courtship began with banter about Stephen Hawking’s theories of space-time, and ever since it has been an up-and-down adventure of sexual attraction, intellectual game-playing, and long silences when Julia refuses to return Reed’s calls.
When news reports reveal evidence of radioactive pollution in the land surrounding the plant, Reed and Julia’s relationship faces an unprecedented challenge. In An Atomic Romance, Bobbie Ann Mason delivers a brilliant novel set against a backdrop of atomic power: a love story between a motorcycle-riding loner and an independent, strong-minded biologist; between the peaceful present in a typical American community and the nation’s violent nuclear past; and, finally, between a good man and the work he takes pride in, though it may be putting his life in danger.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: An Atomic Romance|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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An Atomic Romance
Reed Futrell still went camping in the Fort Wolf Wildlife Refuge, but he no longer brought along his dog. One spring evening, after his shift ended, he raced home, stuffed his knapsack, loaded his gear onto his bike, and headed for the refuge. He was in one of the enigmatic moods that clobbered him from time to time, and when it struck—the way a migraine hammered some people—his impulse was to hop on his hog and run. Last fall, when one of these moods grabbed him, he rode hundreds of miles, to Larimer County, Colorado, where—in a hot tub at a spa—he came to his senses and felt like turning back home.
“Good boy, Clarence,” he had said to his collie-shepherd combo as he left the fenced yard and fastened the gate. “Lay low now. And be sweet—unless anybody tries to break in. You know what to do, killer.”
During the five-mile ride, he ignored the industrial scenery and the suburban tableaus and the trailer havens. He escaped the desolation of the outskirts quickly, pretending his hog was a Thoroughbred stallion. As he approached the wilderness, Reed tried to imagine that he was seeing the place for the first time, as if he were entering the unfolding present of the opening of a movie. He was watching, curious to see what might happen.
What anyone notices first about this vast, flat landscape is the fantastical shapes of rising white clouds—plumes and balloons and pillows of cloud, like fleecy foam insulation blown from a hose. When Hollywood filmed a frontier drama here, the source of the clouds remained just outside the frame of the Cinerama panoramas. A radiant ...