One Saturday night in Las Vegas, twelve-year-old Newell Ewing goes out with a friend and doesn’t come home. In the aftermath of his disappearance, his mother, Lorraine, makes daily pilgrimages to her son’s room and tortures herself with memories. Equally distraught, the boy’s father, Lincoln, finds himself wanting to comfort his wife even as he yearns for solace, a loving touch, any kind of intimacy.
As the Ewings navigate the mystery of what’s become of their son, the circumstances surrounding Newell’s vanishing and other events on that same night reverberate through the lives of seemingly disconnected strangers: a comic book illustrator in town for a weekend of debauchery; a painfully shy and possibly disturbed young artist; a stripper who imagines moments from her life as if they were movie scenes; a bubbly teenage wiccan anarchist; a dangerous and scheming gutter punk; a band of misfit runaways. These “urban nomads,” each with a past to hide and a pain to nurture, weave their way through a neon underworld of sex, drugs, and the spinning wheels of chance.
In this masterly debut novel, Charles Bock captures Las Vegas with unprecedented scope and nuance, providing a glimpse into a microcosm of modern America. Beautiful Children is an odyssey of heartache and redemption–heralding the arrival of a major new writer.
About the Author
Charles Bock was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has an MFA from Bennington College and has received fellowships from Yaddo, UCross, and the Vermont Studio Center. He lives in New York City.
Praise for Beautiful Children…
“Bock’s vision and voice create a fictional landscape as corruptly compelling as Vegas, and as beautiful as the illusions its characters cling to for survival. . . . One word: bravo.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“An affecting story . . . truly powerful . . . Beautiful Children Dazzles its readers on almost every page. . . . [Charles Bock] knows how to tug at your heart, and he knows how to make you laugh out loud, often on the same page, sometimes in the same sentence.”
“Wholly original–dirty, fast, and hypnotic. The sentences flicker and skip and whirl, like the neon city Bock writes about. It will change the way you look at Las Vegas.”
“Exceptional . . . [Bock’s] ability to share a deep understanding of America’s million or so lost street kids and their tormented parents gives the book a whiff of greatness. . . . This novel deserves to be read more than once because of the extraordinary importance of its subject matter.”
–The Washington Post Book World
“An anxious, angry, honest first novel filled with compassion and clarity. The language has a rhythm wholly its own–at moments it is stunning, near genius.”
–A. M. Homes
“From start to finish, Bock never stops tantalizing the reader.”
–San Francisco Chronicle
“Rich and compelling . . . Captures the hallucinogenic setting like a fever dream.”
–Los Angeles Times