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The Path of Minor Planets

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  366 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
In 1965, on a small island in the South Pacific, a group of astronomers gather to witness the passing of a comet, but when a young boy dies during a meteor shower, the lives of the scientists and their loved ones change in subtle yet profound ways. Denise struggles for respect in her professional life, married Eli becomes increasingly attracted to Denise and her quixotic m ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published October 4th 2002 by Picador (first published 2001)
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Jun 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: martha, ann, caroline, mackenzie
I've either read this book at the exact moment in my life when I needed to read it, or this book is *that* much better than any other book I've ever read. Or both. Whatever it is, I am in love with it. The prose, the metaphor, the style, the story arc, the characters. In short, everything.

Immediately I was hooked by passages that made me understand, and related to, my parents: who they were in the mid 1960's, how they perceived the world, and possibly how they interacted with it.

It is interesti
Oct 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. Greer has a way of using simple language to transport you to cities and beaches you somehow know well, with tangents of the mind that are common, yet rarely expressed.The magic and simplicity of the language reminded me of "Enchanted Night," while the themes recalled "Ethan Frome." This book was everything I had wanted "Tender is the Night" to be. Where Fitzgerald managed to squeeze out a proper memorial for his characters in the final pages of the book, The Path of Min ...more
Aug 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
I wasn't thrilled with this novel. In my opinion it was overdone. I think that Greer creates perfect analogies, truly choosing the best sensory and experiential combination of words to make you feel what he needs you to feel. But this book was bursting with analogies!

The narrator frustrated me. It was the most astute therapist I have ever witnessed; however, having the narrator perform a psychoanalysis on each character diminished their individuality.

I enjoyed the concept of the book but whene
Aug 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
Andrew Sean Greer is a very talented writer. Every page of this book glows with the shimmer of his elbow grease. Its structure is solid and confident, it's tone as flat and unchanged as a lifeless pulse. It feels hewn, perfected, polished. But I longed to enjoy the novel much more than I actually did. I wanted to like the characters, not something that is necessary for enjoyment, but something one feels Greer wants for his reader. Unfortunately, if it weren't for such masterful phrasing, such be ...more
Matthew Allard
Sep 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I felt the part toward the end where the photographs reemerge (Eli's reaction to them) was really complex and true. Magical humanity.
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
It's official. Dude cannot write a bad sentence. Love him.
I advise readers to be distant from distractions while reading this book because it requires IMAGINATION, very good imagination, as because this novel is overanalyzed. First thing you know, you're just there reading a fully-detailed paragraph, containing tiny descriptions of the setting, major analysis of the behavior of the character, a lot of relative sentences and what do you call it in grammar, anecdotes? Perhaps, and then the next thing you know, everything is out-of-place because you were ...more
May 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Minor planets are objects in orbit around the Sun that qualify neither as planets nor comets, such as asteroids and other space debris. On a cosmic scale, they are unimportant; yet each in its own way possesses a certain majestic bravery as it makes its way through the coldness of space, its path minutely yet indelibly altered by the presence of the other celestial bodies around it.

As such, they are eminently suited to serve as metaphors for people, as Andrew Sean Greer lyrically demonstrates in
Vincent Nola
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I thought this book was very powerful and nostalgic, and while it underwhelmed in action and/or resolution, it had enough moving scenes (some were so sad!) and underliners that it kept me involved and interested throughout.

Kudos to Greer for his use of colorful metaphors, and there are plenty to be found. Great imagery and imagination.

By setting the drama amidst a group of scientists, Greer opens us up to the idea that human beings, no matter how intelligent in certain subjects, can all act li
Tony Mercer
May 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I felt this book really connect with me. The analogies, symbolism, and word choice described small things in life that I have experienced over and over again in ways that I could never articulate. The astronomy metaphors are for me especially well done. The thought of gravity as a "disease" or the connections of each aphelion or perihelion of the comets orbit with the characters is done with brilliance. How the characters experience love, loss, and the mundane reflects the lives of real people, ...more
Patricia Lara
Apr 16, 2012 rated it liked it
I felt very sad after reading this book. You wouldn't enjoy it if you're the type of reader who likes happy endings. It's a story about some young scientists and their lives after a very significant event that ended on a unhappy note. You would assume throughout the book,but then you'll get surprised on how twisted it was. It will make you feel all sorts of sad feelings,and wouldn't want to hide it because the exasperating obstacles and missed chances of love leaves you resentful. But neverthele ...more
Michele Harrod
Jan 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a slow burner - it had pages that moved me very much, moments, where the simplest chances to amend the trajectory of lives, were missed - and these were beautiful. It didn't, however, keep me riveted, and for some reason, I failed to warm to any particular character. In fact, the depth of feelings that were revealed between certain characters, surprised me when they were realised - possibly as much as it did them. There is no doubt that Andrew Sean Greer is a very beautiful writer - but ...more
Katy Wight
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
In the same way that I am impressed when a man writes in an unusually good female voice, I was overwhelmed at how well Andrew Sean Greer writes in voices of all ages. This book about a group of scientists trying to love (none of them very successfully despite serious efforts) spans almost four decades. Greer does an amazing job of writing the personal thoughts and reflections of everyone from a strange and lonely five year old girl to her eminent father nearing death forty years later. The whole ...more
Aug 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: San Franciscans, Berkeleyans
This is a lovely book. I picked it up because I went to some little bookstore and the staff had recommended it and luckily, the staff and I have the same taste in books. I love the writing and it didn't hurt that some of the book is set in the Bay Area. This book is a sad, though, so keep that in mind before you pick it up. I think my one dislike is that the book follows several characters around and I'm not a fan of that approach. I like sticking with one character; it feels more personal.
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have enjoyed all of this author's books, so it was interesting to read his first. It was interesting to see time playing a major role in the story, but in a very different way than in Max Tivoli. I really enjoyed the conceit of the comet and the way it marked time in the lives of the characters. Beautiful writing.
Jim Babcock
Jul 23, 2007 rated it liked it
I liked it, though its overall mood was rather sad. Some of the characters were unpredictable, or rather acted in mysterious ways in comparison to ordinary people. Similar to the comet that is a central character to the story. Predictable, yes, but mysteriously out of synch with our familiar and regular rhythms and cycles.
Sep 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the second Greer book I've read and it got better and better as the pages turned. It is a multi-faceted story haunted by the presence of a ghost-child hovering at its periphery. Sad and thoughtful. Well-told and well-written.
Sara Truog
May 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
I wanted to read this because I loved his book The Confessions of Max Tivoli. Unfortunately, this one was not as good - very slow going, and the characters were ALL unlikable. Oh well, on to the next...
Apr 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
the best thing i can say about this book is that it had some really good soundbytes.

but, eh, other than that - a little soap opera-ish, and, for me, when someone chooses to write ABOUT love - it had better be as moving as the real thing is, at least... and i'd like to learn something.
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
Well, I did finish it. Reads like Greer's first novel...Begining intriguing, falls apart ( very self conscious) in middle and comes together in the end. I liked the sky descriptions, the comets, astronomy and the aging of the major players.
So, a pretty good book. However , I did skim a lot of it.
May 09, 2015 rated it liked it
This wasn't bad, but it was disappointing given how much I loved The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells. It is the author's first book, so I'm entertaining the notion that he improved with practice, and his later works (such as Greta Wells) will be more satisfying.
May 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Odd, for some reason I found the work sort of far off from the author's other work on max tivoli in terms of writing. Either the concepts didn't add up to the theme, or parts tend to loose focus, but that's my view if it
Barbara Landes
Jun 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed it. I've read 3 of his now, I liked them all
but my favorite is still The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.
Bill Alexander
Jul 15, 2012 rated it liked it

Very slow
Feb 09, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommended to Aneel by: Jenny
A convincing account of the lives and loves of a group of astronomers. Captured the feeling of some of the tech-heavy groups I've interacted with. Depressing.
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
I love his work.
Ayelet Waldman
Another marvel by Andrew Sean Greer. (My buddy and accomplice on the SF strip club scene. I'll reveal more later).
Oct 16, 2011 rated it liked it
A little bit sad and also unpredictable, but I loved the development of each character. The story really gives you a sense that time is fleeting.
Richard J. Alley
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
See my review of The Path of Minor Planets at
Alicia B.
Loved it! What a stunning debut by one of the most talented modern writers ever to arm wrestle a perfect sentence.
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Andrew Sean Greer (born 1970) is an American novelist and short story writer.

He is the bestselling author of The Story of a Marriage, which The New York Times has called an “inspired, lyrical novel,” and The Confessions of Max Tivoli, which was named one of the best books of 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle and received a California Book Award.

The child of two scientists, Greer studied writing
More about Andrew Sean Greer...
“It turns out that you don't end up with the people you love; by definition, you end up with the ones who stay.” 2 likes
“It's just that, you know how it is in some relationships, how one of them is a little more in love. Well, it's like that with friendships. Sometimes one of them thinks they're really close, closer than they are. And the other doesn't feel that way.” 2 likes
More quotes…