Panorama: A Novel by Steve Kistulentz


“It is a kind of delicious cheating to flip ahead, to know how everything turns out; to read the last page is to learn exactly how inevitable the events are in a particular story.”

Life, however is disorderly and not tied in neat endings set to a beautiful soundtrack. If we knew what would happen and could prevent or change it, nothing would ever happen. In Panorama a careless oversight causes a tragedy with life altering consequences for everyone involved. Richard MacMurray works in television, a well known tv pundit, part-time gadfly. While he is a guest on a news show, digging into an argument about the First Amendment, the anchorman gets word of breaking news, a Special Report– trigger words for Richard after tragedy struck his own father Lew, decades ago. Tragedy has found him again, this time his sister Mary Beth is one of the victims in a jet airline crash, leaving behind her little boy Gabriel, but he doesn’t quite know this yet. Before long, he will.

Richard is the remaining family, and knows it is now on him to take in his nephew. How will he be a father to a little boy who is very much a stranger to him? He isn’t the only person left reeling. Mary Beth had just begun dating her Boss Mike Renefro, fresh in the relationship not quite solidified but getting there, wanting to be more and now consumed by worry for the little boy whose mother is never coming back, Mike is a sort of outcast from those grieving, unofficial as he isn’t legally tied to the victim. Mike, who has no say in anything, who has no right to be ‘involved’ but desperate, knowing he must get to Mary Beth’s son, to be the one to tell him what has happened, rules be damned. Gabriel, a ‘strange and lonely’ child who feels the force of being the only child of a single mom, a boy who has a plan to be more ‘normal’, to be more likable and blend in with all those kids who leave him out, once his mother returns from her trip he will tell her how he will fix things. It’s too late, but he doesn’t know this, he has no clue his mother has died in a plane crash. There is something tender and horrifying, as if he is suspended in time, free from the devastating knowledge, but only a short reprieve. We wish he never had to find out.

This captures a moment that pulls so many into it’s tragic orbit, teenagers that are going about their day getting up to the things young people do that get footage of the crash, knowing it’s gold for any news station. There is Sarah who has been caring for Gabriel  while Mary Beth is on her vacation and waits for his mother’s return but soon has to pass him over to temporary guardian Maura Valle, who just doesn’t have the heart to tell the little boy his mother won’t be coming back. How does one go about being the person who delivers news that will rupture a child’s world forever? From a janitor, to a mechanic, a brother, a son and everyone in between, the reader witnesses how a moment can change everything. None of them get to skip to the ending, to change their mistakes or avoid the flight. Fate is set.

Publication Date: March 6, 2018

Coming soon from Little, Brown and Company



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