A debut novel that spins towards a single moment, a plane crash on New Year’s Day, and then onward, as the survivors navigate intertwined paths in the wake of the tragedy
Richard MacMurray, a cable news talking head, is paid handsomely to pontificate on the issues of the moment. On New Year’s Day he is scheduled to be a guest on a prominent Sunday-morning talk show. But as he awaits the broadcast, the network interrupts with news that a jet airliner has crashed in Dallas, killing everyone on board. Within an hour, amateur videotape surfaces of the plane’s last moments. Its repetitive broadcast transforms the crash into a living image: familiar, constant, and horrifying. That afternoon, Richard learns that his sister Mary Beth was aboard the doomed flight, leaving behind her six-year-old son, Gabriel. Richard is the boy’s only living relative.
With time-compressed intensity and a kaleidoscopic sweep reminiscent of Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, PANORAMA dramatizes the ever-widening impact of a single event over the span of one day, on the victims and their loved ones, yes, but also on others: the plane’s mechanic, the airport janitor working the night shift, and even casual observers such as a teenager in a dingy motel who catches the plane’s final moments on video.
Kistulentz captures the sprawl of contemporary America-its culture, its values, the workaday existence of its people-with precision, humanity, humor, and hope. And yet within this novel’s expansive scope emerges an intimate portrait of human loss-children now without parents, lovers without partners, goodbyes left entirely unsaid. But when Richard brings home Gabriel and embarks on his second chapter, he does so with hope, picking up the pieces and carrying on, as we must.