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The Last Flight of Poxl West

3.49  ·  Rating Details ·  632 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
A stunning novel from award-winning author Daniel Torday, in which a young man recounts his idolization of his Uncle Poxl, a Jewish, former-RAF pilot, exploring memory, fame and story-telling.

All his life, Elijah Goldstein has idolized his charismatic Uncle Poxl. Intensely magnetic, cultured and brilliant, Poxl takes Elijah under his wing, introducing him to opera and art
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by St. Martin's Press
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Diane S ☔
Mar 17, 2015 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it
A Jewish teenager, Elijah, reveres the older man who is his Uncle Poxl. This man has time for him, takes him to museums, discusses art and literature with him and tells him stories of his life during the war. This is the bare bones of the story but this is a story within a story and telling more would ruin this book for future readers.

There is something so tender in the way this is written, the characters so likable. The art of storytelling, the interpretation of memory, experiences and regrets,
Robin Black
Sep 21, 2014 Robin Black rated it it was amazing
I had the joy of reading this pre-publication and trust me, this is a book you want to read. More in a bit as I sort through what is and what isn't a spoiler, but for now just Hooray!!
switterbug (Betsey)
Mar 22, 2016 switterbug (Betsey) rated it really liked it
Joan Jett once sang that “Everybody needs a hero,” which is certainly the truth for fifteen-year-old Eli Goldstein, who is searching for a touchstone to transcend his Jewish consciousness, in 1980s Boston. His hippie-ish rabbi in Hebrew school has tried to turn him on to the kabbalah, but Eli worships his surrogate Uncle Poxl, a flamboyant and charismatic scholar, and a bomber pilot in WW II. During museum, opera, and symphony outings, Poxl taught Eli to appreciate the finer nuances of art; over ...more
Feb 12, 2015 Esil rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to St Martin's Press and Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy of The Last Flight of Poxl West. It's a narrative within a narrative. Eli recounts the story of his relationship with his "uncle" Poxl, a family friend who wrote a memoir about his experience as a Jewish fighter pilot during WWII. Eli idolizes Poxl and his stories. Interspersed with Eli's narrative is Poxl's memoir of his time during the war and just after. I really liked Eli's narrative and parts of Poxl's ...more
I was excited to read this novel. The story of a Jewish WWII RAF pilot who goes on to publish his memoirs more than forty years after the war, sounded interesting. Poxl West, born Leopold Weisberg, tells a story within a story, as we read his memoir as well as his nephew's narrative set in 1986 as Poxl's book is published.

I was eager to be taken back in time and learn about Poxl's experiences during the war but half way through I realized the past didn't come alive for me, I wasn't engaged by th
Jan 26, 2015 Jessica rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, arc-egalley
This was fine, but a little underwhelming. Maybe just because I figured out where it was going about a third of the way through? I dunno. A longer review to come.
Wendy Cosin
Feb 20, 2015 Wendy Cosin rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww-ii
The Last Flight of Poxl West alternates between two related stories - a World War II “memoir” and a story about a relationship between young Elijah Goldstein and his uncle Poxl. This structure breaks up the story nicely and provides needed perspective to the memoir sections, which make up most of the novel. In summary, The Last Flight of Poxl West is a good story and extremely well-written, with characters that experience deep emotions and complex moral issues.

Eli, a Jewish teenager in Boston, w
Oswego Public Library District
This debut novel by David Torday employs a story-within-a-story plot device to dramatic effect. Beginning with the narration of Elijah Goldstein, a fifteen-year-old student, it recounts his relationship with his uncle Leopold Weisberg, known as Poxl West. Poxl introduces him to cultural life around Boston --opera, symphony, literature and art. As Elijah learns more about Poxl’s early life and exploits during World War II, his feelings progress from love and admiration to hero worship. He also ...more
Mar 29, 2015 Tina rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! It begins in the perspective of a 15-year-old Jewish teenager, Elijah Goldstein, growing up in Boston in the '80s, who idolizes his Uncle Poxl, a Czech Jew who was an RAF pilot in WWII. The novel then switches to Poxl's recently released war memoir and moves back and forth between the viewpoints as it goes on. I loved the interplay of the two very distinct voices of Eli and Poxl, with both of them strong enough to engage you equally. At first, I thought I wouldn't like ...more
Christopher Roblodowski
Dec 18, 2014 Christopher Roblodowski rated it it was amazing
I would like to thank Bookbrowse for this beautiful book. The focus of the story is a novel written by the protagonist's uncle, Poxl West. The fact that Poxl West is not his real uncle is revealed in the very first paragraph. It is in some ways a foreshadowing of things to come in Daniel Torday's brilliant examination of the memoir novel. The novel alternates between chapters narrating what is happening with the characters in the story, and chapters of Poxl’s memoir. This approach really worked ...more
Apr 08, 2015 Mark rated it liked it
Because he last eighty pages or so of this novel are so good, I regretted that I didn't find the first 200 pages more compelling. I was never convinced that the mock memoir that lies at the heart of this novel (occupying 70-80% of the pages) could really have caused the stir among the reading public that occurs in the novel. However, as the novel comes to a close, we alternate more frequently between Poxl West's memoir which is centered around World War II, and the 1980's story of Poxl's nephew ...more
Sylvia Abrams
Nov 11, 2015 Sylvia Abrams rated it liked it
The last Flight if Poxl West is a troubling story. Told as a memoir within a novel, the plot revolves around the flawed hero, Leopoldo Weisberg,, aka Poxl West. The narrator of the novel is Elijah, Poxl's young nephew. I liked the sections in the voice of Eli. They rang true as the young boy who idolized his uncle matures into a man who realizes his uncle's flaws. Less successful, in my view, is the memoir. Why Poxl found Francoise to be his true love was not convincing at all. Her tawdry ...more
Hella Comat
May 20, 2015 Hella Comat rated it it was amazing
Yes, the main reason I was interested in this book was because it had an airplane on the cover.... It's two stories told simultaneously. One is about a young Jewish boy who is taken under the wing of his uncle, who he adores. The other story is the text of a book the uncle wrote of his coming of age during WWII. The facts about living in London during the invasion of Britain were horrific - people living in subways and caves and the huge amount of destruction. Of course it was the same in ...more
Alana Cheshire
Jan 01, 2015 Alana Cheshire rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
***Received through a Goodreads Giveaway***

An extraordinary novel that explores glory, redemption, and our omnipresent need as humans to tell the stories we tell. This is a war story that isn't predominately about war; rather, the fighting is the backdrop of Poxl's story, not the thesis of it. The result is an intriguing narrative that is unafraid to stray from our typically black-and-white hindsight impressions of WWII, and makes a compelling distinction between what is true and what is honest.
Freda Witt
Jan 06, 2016 Freda Witt rated it did not like it
I only gave it a one star because it doesn't have a no star. This was supposed to be heartwarming? This is nothing heartwarming about it. There are no likable characters, no story line that I could see.
Dec 09, 2014 Ivan rated it it was amazing
Hard not to spoil this book, so if you ask me, I'm just going to respond by asking why you haven't read it already. It's truly senseless not to.
Daniel Weaver
Aug 29, 2016 Daniel Weaver rated it liked it
Didn't pull me in
Nov 29, 2016 Patti rated it liked it
Eli is a teenager who adores his uncle, Poxl West, who is not really a relative but is more of a grandfather figure to Eli. When Poxl writes a memoir of his experiences during WWII, Eli is miffed that he never receives his signed copy, but still he reads the book several times and uses it as a basis for school assignments. This novel contains the entire text of Poxl’s memoir, and this book-within-a-book is the real meat of this novel. Poxl, a Jew, flees Czechoslovakia for the Netherlands as a ...more
Nov 28, 2016 Rachel rated it liked it
A bit disappointing. The twist was predictable. It short, and overall enjoyable as a reading experience, but not as deep as I had hoped. If you're looking for a sort of coming of age story set during WWII, this might be good for you, but don't expect to be wowed.
Roger Brunyate
Jun 14, 2016 Roger Brunyate rated it really liked it
Shelves: ww2, young-adult

I put off reading this debut novel because the playful cover design and strange choice of name for its leading character (Poxl, apparently, is a diminutive of Leopold) made it sound trivial and flippant. Far from it. It is actually a solid story of the Second World War, familiar enough in its elements perhaps, but told from an unfamiliar perspective. More than that, it is an exploration of that strangely permeable border between fact and fiction, and a study of how we manipulate hi
Jul 07, 2015 Sage rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
*I received a free copy of this from a giveaway on Goodreads.
**This is also posted on my blog: Library of Books.

Elijah, a young Jewish teenager, adores and idolizes his “Uncle” Poxl, a long time family friend. Poxl makes time for him, usually taking him to museums and plays and every time Poxl divulges and discusses his life during the war. However, you should know that this is a story within a story, and saying much more on the plot or structure could possible ruin this book for other readers.
Apr 07, 2015 Greg rated it liked it
In Daniel Torday’s novel, THE LAST FLIGHT OF POXL WEST, both main characters judge and reject loved ones over things that seem fairly unimportant to their overall happiness. Poxl leaves home abruptly after seeing his mother having sex with someone who was not his father. Once again he does the same thing to the woman he loves, Francoise, after observing her having sex with a sailor, this despite knowing that she was a prostitute. He lives to regret these rejections but neither can be redeemed. ...more
Julianne (Outlandish Lit)
Obviously, the premise of this book interested me right away. I've been trying to read more Jewish literature, and who wouldn't want to read about a Jewish bomber pilot? In addition to that, as I only found out once starting the book, it's a book within a book! YES. You end up reading Poxl West's entire memoir, Skylock, where he describes his life before an after World War II. This is interspersed with small chunks of Elijah, Poxl's nephew, reminiscing on his reaction to this book as a kid, ...more
Jennifer Creighton
Sep 17, 2016 Jennifer Creighton rated it it was ok
I was disappointed that the book isn't as advertised. It was billed as the story of a teenaged boy who learns the truth about his adopted uncle who fought in WWII. It was more the uncle's story which, while interesting, wasn't as intriguing as a story of the boy and his uncle would have been. It also became somewhat redundant about "Francois", to the point I didn't care about her.
Feb 25, 2015 Nancy rated it liked it
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 ...more
Mar 30, 2015 Patricia rated it liked it
I didn't find this to be a remarkable book; I wish it had been more rewarding and enriching as it was an interesting twist from typical WWII themes. There are two stories and narrators: Eli Goldstein, a fifteen year boy in Massachusetts and his uncle, Leopold (Poxl) West, a Czechoslovakian Jew whose father urges him to leave for Rotterdam and then London where he becomes a RAF bomber during WWII. In alternating chapters, the two narrators share their stories.
Eli worships his uncle and the notor
Patricia Linville
Aug 19, 2015 Patricia Linville rated it it was amazing
"Many people just assumed from listening to his confident tone that my uncle Poxl knew what he was talking about." Thus Daniel Torday begins to weave his story of an impressionable teen and the adventures of a good friend of his deceased grandfather who he calls uncle. Torday intersperses the narration of the nephew recounting his adventures with Uncle Poxl with the memoirs written by Poxl himself. While the core of the story deals with Poxl's relationships during the war, the war itself and the ...more
Marianna Leão
May 20, 2016 Marianna Leão rated it it was amazing
O livro conta a história de Elijah, um adolescente judeu que idolatra seu avô postiço, Poxl West. Poxl teve um papel fundamental durante seu processo de amadurecimento, ele levava o menino a museus, teatros, óperas e, no fim do dia, lia para ele partes da biografia que estava escrevendo. Nela ele reconta seus dias como piloto da Força Aérea Real Britânica durante a Segunda Guerra Mundial.
Elijah vê em seu "tio" o herói judeu que tanto anseia, o modelo de conduta que ele sempre quis ver nos livros
Jan 10, 2015 Jennifer rated it really liked it

4.5/5 Stars

The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday is a magnificent book debut and one the reader will not want to set down. Torday has expertly crafted a multilayered, multigenerational look at a family’s life after WWII, what it means to be a family, love, loss and the craft of storytelling. The Last Flight of Poxl West is told from two viewpoints; present day and Poxl’s memoir, allowing the reader to decide for themselves the truth behind what truly occurred. By all accounts Poxl West i
Jun 09, 2015 Cole rated it it was ok
Ugh, I did not like this book very much. The dual-narrator did not work, in my opinion. There wasn't enough back and forth to get Eli's perspective.

I didn't like how Poxl's story was written. There were so many parts that were glossed over - something very important would happen and there would hardly be two sentences about it, and then we have another three paragraphs about how he should be thinking of Glynnis and yet he's thinking about Franciose.

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Daniel Torday is the author of the novel THE LAST FLIGHT OF POXL WEST. New York Times chief critic Michiko Kakutani said the book "announces Torday's emergence as a writer deserving of attention," and in a cover review, The New York Times Book Review called the novel, “Expertly crafted... full of lyrical prose, superb Rothian sentences that glide over the page as smoothly as a Spitfire across a ...more
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“We might be able to see God's body in the Kabbalah's ten Sefirot, but it was 1986, barely forty years since our grandparents' generation sat desperate and fated in their East European neighborhoods. Never again, our teachers incanted to us Monday after Monday, Wednesday after Wednesday. But when I picture myself in those rooms in the basement of our shul, even now I can only hear the incantation's reciprocal: It will happen again. Beware. Be always aware.” 1 likes
“At times, always unexpected, the flames of the past will come and burn a hole in my day.” 1 likes
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