Sea of Tranquillity

Blazing a trajectory across two decades of American life, from the sky-high optimism of the first moon shot to the dark human landscape in the age of AIDS, Sea of Tranquillity tells the story of a splintered nuclear family. The head of the family is Allen Cloud, a handsome, dedicated NASA astronaut, a hero fit for the cover of Life, but a man whose private life is in cruel contrast with his public image. For Allen is far more at home walking on the moon than in the world of human relationships. Tormented by his wife’s desperate need and raging drunkenness, and by his son’s obvious homosexuality, Allen must come to terms with the destruction of one, and the demand for recognition of the other. He tries to build a new life with an all-American dream girl who has survived one nightmare and now, with Allen, finds herself facing another. Looming large in the lives of both father and mother is their son, Jonathan, whose fearless acknowledgment of his sexual identity and avid pursuit of physical and spiritual fulfillment has its counterpart in a shy and repressed preacher’s son, Stayton Voegli, whose desires Jonathan awakens in high school and whose destiny Jonathan permanently alters, for better or worse.


Sea of Tranquillity was chosen by the Triangle Publishing Group as one of the 100 Best Gay and Lesbian Novels.


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“This book of martyrs and lovers, of one family lost in space and an image of America in the age of astronauts is a real find of the season.”—Alan Cheuse, National Public Radio


“Traces the disintegration of a picture-perfect American family across two momentous decades of time and immense distances of space, literal and emotional… telling us in frank, confessional terms about the many ways to love and lose in modern America.”—The Boston Globe


“Russell limns his family drama’s main themes with masterful strokes… there is some breathtaking writing here. Russell weaves a web of personal relationships subtly and expertly, teasing out in the process human truths that shock and satisfy.”— Kirkus Reviews


“Imbued with wise and compassionate power… Russell is a masterful writer who portrays the birth of a gay rural community with the same empathy in which he depicts the rigor of middle-aged marriage.”—Cover


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