Ascension: A Novel

Ascension: A Novel

Steven Galloway

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 0786712082

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


It is the summer of 1976 and Salvo Ursari, a man of retirement age, is walking on a taut wire strung between the Twin Towers of New York's World Trade Center, almost fourteen hundred feet above the city. Far below him in the gaping crowd stands his wife, Anna, to whom he has made a solemn promise: This wire walk will end his career. In this daring moment, Steven Galloway opens his riveting novel about Salvo Ursari, whose life begins in 1919 amid a Transylvanian boyhood inhabited by gypsy folklore and inspired by the bravery of his persecuted people. Salvo's story moves irresistibly from a tragic fire that envelops his family, to street life in Budapest, where he learns the skills of a wire walker, to the carnivals of Europe and the competitive world of the American circus. Most fulfilled when living with paradox, Salvo feels safest while performing startling feats of balance on a wire high above the dangerous world; and most endangered if performing above a net. With compassion, warmth, and blazing originality, Ascension combines jaw-dropping storytelling, and fantastical symbolism with mesmerizing detail of Romany and circus culture, and an unforgettable walk with the amazing Salvo Ursari.

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Salvo was still contemplating how much time had elapsed when he stopped dead in his tracks. Coming down the main road like a legion of ants was a mob of gadje, brandishing clubs and sticks and various other weapons. Some, the ones who had been soldiers, even had rifles. They were shouting, swearing, and they were moving fast. Salvo ducked into the stable beside the blacksmith’s, moving rapidly towards the rear of one of the horse stalls. He didn’t see the smith and didn’t know if the smith had

did not know what sort of man Salvo had become, and he didn’t know if he wanted to bring him out of the past. In memory, his brother was a slightly irritating but likable, almost noble, boy. András knew that he would not be able to bear having that image destroyed. He had lost too much of his family already. He remembered Etel and turned to her. He could tell that she knew who Salvo was, that he was their missing brother, and he lost his nerve. He did not catch any inkling of Etel’s true

trial went well. There was no real evidence against him, and it was fairly clear to those in the room that some scapegoating was taking place. On the third day, however, things took a turn for the worse. Added at the last minute as a witness for the prosecution was Norris Fisher-Fielding. Reporters scribbled furiously, and people whispered to each other. Cole’s lawyers looked at each other, puzzled. Norris took the stand calmly. When he spoke his voice was soft, and for the majority of his

spring of 1957 the Fisher-Fielding Circus Company would again decide between two cousins. Martin Fisher-Fielding had long known that he did not have the support of many of the Respectables. They identified him with his uncle, an association Martin was proud of and had done nothing to discourage. Some of the Respectables, however, still blamed Cole for the fire and its subsequent effect on revenues. This sentiment was fostered by Norris, who knew that the Respectables were the key to his power.

made the circus great. There was no way to reverse this change, it seemed. He doubted even Cole himself could have made things any better, but he often wished the old man were still alive so that they could try. That year the Fisher-Fielding Circus Company barely broke even, and it was more than likely that it would lose money the following year. Many within the organization wanted to sell the show; despite the seeming futility of going on, there had been substantial offers made by outside

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