Brightfellow is a solitary young boy’s unconventional coming of age story. Abandoned by his parents at an early age, Stub moves onto the local college campus where he takes refuge in utilities closets and abandoned library storage rooms. Among the stacks of forgotten books, Stub educates himself on the writings of obscure philosopher Verner Vanderloon, who is also a recluse. A widowed professor eventually takes Stub in, while Stub, who has renamed himself Charter, poses as an exchange student from Australia. From the window of his new lodgings, Charter becomes fascinated by Asthma, a young girl who lives next door, and he attempts to recreate his lost childhood through her. Brimming with lyrical descriptions of the campus and with ornamental characters representing various academic “types,” Brightfellow is both a portrait of small town American campus life and of the peculiarities of childhood. Ducornet’s vision of childhood, despite being idiosyncratic, is quite appealing: a world free of restrictive adults where self-learning is the prerogative. This is a short, brisk novel sure to be enjoyed by longtime and first time Ducornet readers alike.
Coffee House Press