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Sea of Tranquillity
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Sea of Tranquillity

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  270 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Paul Russell's delicately layered, richly textured novels have won him widespread acclaim as one of the finest contemporary American novelists. Sea of Tranquillity, possibly his most ambitious and rewarding novel, traces a disintegrating nuclear family across two tumultuous decades of American life - from the early '60s to the '80s - and is told in a quartet of voices: ast ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published August 25th 2003 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published September 1st 1994)
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Mar 04, 2007 John rated it it was amazing
This isn't an easy read. There are four characters revealing four points of view about a singular family. I loved it, even when I thought it was becoming a mess, I always came out the otherside appreciating where the novel finally led (and there is much less mess than beauty i in this somber tale).
Paul Russell and Dennis Cooper are the two best writers of dark gay fiction. Each probes areas that make me think, shudder, find compassion for those I wouldn't think I could, and even feel thrilling,
Nov 12, 2008 Julian rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay-fiction
Fascinating odyssey of a story! The scope of this novel was fascinating, and the historical context provided that much more significance to the narrative.
Jason Weidemann
Sep 13, 2013 Jason Weidemann rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Young gay men
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeffrey Richards
Dec 09, 2016 Jeffrey Richards rated it liked it
I'm torn about how much I liked this novel. For the most part, the story and writing kept me intrigued and interested in continuing but, I feel, the author lost his way a bit during certain parts, and, in turn, lost me as a reader.

Sea of Tranquillity traces a disintegrating nuclear family across two tumultuous decades of American life - from the early '60s to the '80s - and is told in a quartet of voices: astronaut Allen Cloud, his wife, their gay son, Jonathan, and his friend/lover. The novel
Steve Woods
Oct 25, 2012 Steve Woods rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay-fiction, kindle
This is an excellent piece of work, full of humor and pathos. It tells the story of two gay boys, one, Jonathon, a flaming star shooting through his own life and the lives of those around him, separate and different to all around him, drawn compulsively in his isolation to sex as the only way he seems to be able to connect. A truth that answers the deep seated frustration put into him by the distance and emotional unresponsiveness of his father, an astronaut and the his mother a lush. The other ...more
Oct 26, 2014 Benjamin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-fiction
Living in Houston in 1970, astronaut Allen Cloud is training for a moon mission, his marriage is falling apart, and he discovers his teenage son, Jonathan, is gay. Jonathan is an uninhibited free spirit; he enjoys, in his neighbour’s pool and the back of a pick-up tuck, the young black guy who cuts his neighbour’s lawn. When Jonathan moves with his mother to Tennessee and starts at a new school he meets Stayton Voegli, shy son of a preacher and vacuum cleaner salesman, and falls in love. Eventua ...more
Tristan Goding
Nov 20, 2015 Tristan Goding rated it liked it
This book left me feeling haunted, though I was touched by a lot of it. This was a casual read on my part, I will admit. It was a lot more layered than I could have ever expected it to be. I didn't think it would resonate with me so much, or get under my skin as deeply as it did. I don't know if a lot of readers expect this kind of thing from writer Paul Russell. At the time he was unfamiliar to me. If you're new to his books, I probably wouldn't start with SEA OF TRANQUILITY unless you're extre ...more
Feb 02, 2014 Quinn rated it it was amazing
I've read all of Mr. Russell's books except for : " Boys Of Life". I've really enjoyed each of them ,individually , yet there's something that is incredibly unique about this book. I don't think I want that to mean it is "the best" . I want to make an allusion to a magic carpet ride here . It's the most succinct manner by which I can put this book into some sort of perspective , for myself, at least . I am only 3/4 of the way through the book and I need to take a respite. I have to read it in i ...more
Erin Matthiessen
Aug 08, 2014 Erin Matthiessen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A beautifully written though somewhat uncentered look at the breakdown of an American family - an astronaut, his wife and their gay son - through the turbulence and the disillusionment of the 1970's and 80's. Russell's insights into his characters verge on the poetic, but though it leaves the reader with a feeling something like redemption, in the end it feels a bit unearned. The center does not hold.
Still, all of Russell's books are worth reading, for the vividness of his prose, the emoti
Mar 21, 2009 Christine rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
This wass very readable but not nearly as intense as Boys of Life. I've read The Salt Point, too, and neither come close to the power of Boys of Life. Maybe it's a personal thing with me, since I identify so closely with the narrator in Boys. Anyway, this is good enough in a gay novel kind of way.

What I liked about it is the range of topics covered: a lot of gay novels never get out of the gay ghetto, but this one marries AIDS, gay sex, and male relationships to travels in Turkey, NASA, space e
Dec 11, 2014 Kevin rated it really liked it
I have mixed emotions about this book.

It a book that drags the reader kicking and screaming through the lives of several characters. It's good because you really end up liking and caring about the characters. It's bad because you end up caring about the characters and all their flaws.

Some of the characters, at least for sections of their life, come directly out of 'characters' in my life. Sometimes it hits too close to home.

Well written, kept me engaged even when I didn't want to be (the draggi
Apr 01, 2011 Jane rated it it was amazing
This remains one of my favorites and I reread it every couple of years. There are not too many characters and begins with the astronaut father of one of the boys it's about. One by one each character is introduced in a manner that explains their later actions and behaviors in a believable and sympathetic manner. Ultimately it is a kind of love affairs over space and time, between two men and their families, during or near the beginning of the dark age of AIDS. It's probably not to everyone's tas ...more
"Book of the thousand and one dreams; shadow play of night sweats and nocturnal emissions; calendar of spent days; rumor-chronicle of voyages lunar and sublunary; the secret history of a plague as told by a dying American prince to his father the astronaut: in the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful."

Another great book by Paul Russell. Characters so painfully nuanced that they feel like our selves, but which also give us glimpses into people we might never have otherwise seen or come cl
Aug 14, 2016 Bettye rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
I chose this book thinking it was another book titled Sea of Tranquility. There seem to be quite a few with this title. Nevertheless, it is a good book and I would read more by this author. The story is about a family with an astronaut father and a gay son, and a mother who is loving but who has many issues. The plot and the characters are well written. I finally was tired of the dysfunctionality of all of the characters though and did not read the last 20 pages. Please note: There is quite a bi ...more
Jun 30, 2012 Jan rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite books. This book combines a surprising number of elements-- mid to late 20th century American history, the Space Race, the rise of out Gay American culture, American Buddhism, US race relations--all told through a handful of interconnected characters with poetic language.
Oct 17, 2016 Autumn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Messy story, sometimes hard to read. The writing is fine, it's the events that are messy and hard to read. But, if you're interested in early moon landings, family dynamics, 80s gay history you would enjoy this.
Apr 25, 2014 Catherine rated it liked it
I was a bit shocked that my daughter recommended a book with such graphic gay sex but she was caught up in the sadness of the main character's battle with AIDs which really didn't move me in the same way.
Nicole Fox
Dec 30, 2012 Nicole Fox rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was an interesting read. I liked the way that it spanned 2 decades of history. I would recommend.
Louis Macko
Feb 28, 2016 Louis Macko rated it liked it
Yet another books about AIDS written by a gay man from a generation that hyperbolically refers to that epidemic as their holocaust. It was a lifetime movie kind of way.
Gena Stack
Dec 26, 2014 Gena Stack rated it liked it
Mixed feelings about this one. I liked it more towards the end than I did in the beginning. The characters grow on you a bit, but they still seemed a little one-dimensional to me.
Jim rated it it was amazing
Nov 15, 2015
Amit rated it did not like it
Jan 02, 2009
Steven rated it it was amazing
Oct 31, 2013
Will Russell
Will Russell rated it it was amazing
Dec 07, 2013
Bethany rated it really liked it
Jan 20, 2013
Nicholas Molodyko
Nicholas Molodyko rated it really liked it
Sep 12, 2012
Cathy rated it it was amazing
Nov 29, 2007
Glenn rated it liked it
Dec 10, 2008
Anthony McGill
Anthony McGill rated it really liked it
Feb 16, 2015
Michael rated it really liked it
Aug 05, 2012
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

Paul Russell received his doctorate from Cornell in 1983 for a dissertation on the novelist Vladimir Nabokov and is currently a Professor in the English Department at Vassar College.

His fourth novel, The Coming Storm won the 2000 Ferro-Grumley Award for Gay Male Fiction.

His short fiction has appeared in literary
More about Paul Russell...

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