The Paradox of Vertical Flight

The Paradox of Vertical Flight - Emil Ostrovski With its hilarious and contemplative content, The Paradox of Vertical Flight is a riveting debut that has won me over. Embracing philosophy and oozing with originality, this novel is the literary equivalent of an onion with its many layers. Ostrovski never gives readers a dull moment in this fast-paced, not your typical "light" road trip read. There is not a second I can recall where I was not intrigued by the adventures of Jack, his best friend, Tommy, and his ex-girlfriend, Jess. The Paradox of Vertical Flight is a beautifully peculiar experience that will leave readers mulling and tittering over its content.Filled with angst and suicidal tendencies, Philosophy major Jack finds himself in a quagmire on his eighteenth birthday - his ex-girlfriend is pregnant and is giving up their child for adoption upon birth. That scenario is enough for a plot, but Ostrovski does not stop there. Jack impulsively kidnaps that newborn, taking him on an adventure meant to spend precious time together. Jack also uses this break to mold his son (who he bestows the apt name Socrates) into a philosopher, for the sake of the infant's future. The Paradox of Vertical Flight is therefore a road trip novel that will leave its readers questioning the many facets of life, whether it is friendship, romance, or even existence itself. This is mostly done through Jack's imaginary conversations with the actual, dead philosopher Socrates who is manifested by his infant son.Having taken courses in philosophy, I can say that The Paradox of Vertical Flight is highly didactic. This may be a major deterrent for readers who find philosophy uninteresting - especially if it is because of the unfounded belief that the ancient study is reserved for the pretentious. Ostrovski is definitely aware of this stereotype, because he presents the topic in conversational language. There are times when Jack rambles on and on, but I paid keen attention nonetheless. Normally, topics as heavy as philosophy and mythology are difficult to portray in dialogue or narrative without sounding convoluted. Then again, it could have been my education on the topic that made reading about it a breeze. If you groan at the sight of Nietzsche quotes or other philosophy concepts then The Paradox of Vertical Flight may irk you.When it comes to characterization, Ostrovski does an impressive job. Each character in The Paradox of Vertical Flight is exceedingly entertaining. Jack, Tommy, Jess, and the conjoined Socrates' each have a significant impact not only on the plot, but on the one's impression of life. They are compelling characters, whose characterization is independent and complex, whether secondary or not. This was very refreshing, I also loved how Tommy is a source of most of the comedy in the book, whether he feigns romantic love for Jack or defends the use of his German-narrated GPS.Road trip books are generally fun, and the plot that occupies The Paradox of Vertical Flight has a lot of room for it, making it a fast-paced read. The various encounters during the book, whether it is a sarcastic taxi-driver or a bickering, yet hospitable elderly couple, form a meaningful experience that will appeal to many. Though the events (ie. kidnapping a baby) were very odd, they were believable. The conflict is mostly internal, considering the strong presence of mental debates, but it is also external, when it comes to the police's involvement, Jess' anger towards Jack, etc. The plot was simply exciting.Ostrovski's writing style was ideal for The Paradox of Vertical Flight. It is in first-person narrative, giving readers the opportunity to get inside the head of Jack, who often seems to be exhibiting psychotic behavior. Also, there were times when this book portrayed a quirky 'quest humor' reminiscent of  Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. This humor made me enjoy the book so much, that my reading pace quickened. If I had to describe Ostrovski's writing, I would say it is functional. It is primarily colloquial, which is not something I often appreciate. In this case, it was the perfect way to present topics that require much depth without overwhelming readers.In a pistachio shell, The Paradox of Vertical Flight will leave you pondering. Ostrovski trusts readers to analyse how all the bits and pieces fit. He presents us with tough situations, while maintaining a strong sense of realism. The characters are intriguing, and the writing ideal. For his debut book, Ostrovski has done beyond an impressive job, and I look forward to reading anything he writes, such as his short stories I found here.GIVEAWAY: I have donated my paperback ARC of this title to the Little Blogger, Big Ambition project. Raffle ends September 20, 2013.This review first appeared on Oh, Chrys!