Rarely will you encounter a book that soars, takes flight from the first sentence, goes into orbit and lives there for its entirety. “The Next Step: A Gobsmacking Odyssey of Reinvention” by Robert Koppel is an imaginary , universal, stratospheric romp that will resonate long after its final introspective, illuminating pages.
“Fishman”/”Weintraub”/ “Palefsky”/ “Goldberg” join the ranks of literary iconic characters: “Garp”, “Walter Mitty”, “Holden Caulfield”,” “Alice in Wonderland”; a smattering of “Sherman McCoy”. Koppel’s vision knows no parameters; his mastery of language, history, religion, mythology, music, art, contemporary culture is profound, compelling, captivating, “Felliniesque”, undeniably, creatively unique. Fishman and fellow protagonists’ quest, “odyssey” “ to rise above the conventional limitations of individuality” is accomplished by besting feats, vicissitudes at the “ Odysseus/Ulysses” level.
Fishman is Messianic and “ in the beginning created the heavens and the earth”; he now works for FedEx; the quintessential, transformative vehicle resulting in the elimination of divisiveness, spreading harmony, salvation throughout the known world; the formation of the “Arafat-Sharon Interfaith Center”. Simultaneously, raucously humorous, painfully poignant, Koppel gifts magnificence, sacredness to the banal, virtue to paranoia.
Who should read “The Next Step: A Gobsmacking Odyssey of Reinvention”? Anyone who as ever wished for a simple hour:
To live in the mind, hear, and compose like Beethoven, Mahler.
To pen one paragraph with the intellectual adroitness of Dante, Murakami, Nabokov.
To paint one canvas with the magical, chiaroscuro touch of Tintoretto, Picasso.
To sing one song or aria like Streisand or Pavarotti; dance with the aerial agility of Nureyev or Pavlova.
Lead with the wisdom of Gandhi; the goodness of Mother Theresa. Think with the perspicacity of Spinoza.
To close one’s eyes and be instantly teleported to the ruins of Angkor Wat, canals of Venice, Wailing Wall, the “Burning Man Festival”, Mount Olympus.
Anyone who has ever fantasized about achieving the impossible, of being greater than the sum of one’s parts; of permanently rectifying one’s errors.
All, who with prescience, recognize an author with the inimitable skill and facility to transform the normal, everyday into “a gobsmacking odyssey of reinvention”.
This is a novel of hope; rising from the ashes of destitution, the blackness of 9/11; Phoenix resurrected; envisioning “Ploopy Goldberg”, arms outstretched, flying but unlike “Icarus”, embracing the celestial; propitiously, jubilantly gliding, surviving.
For Now ….Penelit