Backward-Facing Man

By Don Silver

Backward Facing Man by Don Silver

Chuck Puckman, Lorraine Nadia, and Frederick Keane came of age in the late 1960s. Like that era, their lives were mysterious, idealistic, passionate, even romantic—but ultimately confused and often ineffectual. More than thirty years later, their youthful adventures continue to have ramifications: Chuck faces prosecution after an industrial accident at his family business, Lorraine’s daughter is searching for the father she never knew, and Frederick has gone underground after his radical life spiraled out of control.

Epic in scope and touching on such provocative issues as Patty Hearst and the SLA, crime and the possibility of redemption, and the search for self and the meaning of life, Backward-Facing Man is a novel about choices and their lasting effects on people’s lives, their families, and American society.




Book Reviews: Backward-Facing Man

“Mr. Silver’s unusual perspective and wide range of material are enough to make this a memorably offbeat debut. So is the palpable struggle that he captures on the page. Far from being wispily nostalgic, ”Backward-Facing Man” is still fighting to make sense of its characters’ late-60’s political conviction and wonder what became of it … What is most interesting is Mr. Silver’s unwillingness to resolve things neatly.”
– JANET MASLIN, New York Times (September 12, 2005)

“An epic, elegant debut.”
– BORDERS, Original Voices Selection, September 2005

“Don Silver’s debut novel, “Backward-Facing Man,” is a kaleidoscopic look at the 1960s counterculture through the lives of three refugees of the counterculture movement. The stories seem initially unconnected, however well written, a jigsaw puzzle of odd pieces. But Silver expertly brings together the disparate elements in an illuminating and entertaining book about the notion of idealism and how it’s not a defeat to settle for less than a perfect world.”
– REGIS BEHE, Feature in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review

“Gritty and intense, BACKWARD FACING MAN has that caught-breath momentum that keeps the reader in for another page, another page, another page, right to the finish.”

“A dark elegy for ’60s campus radicalism and its turn toward violence in the years that followed, Silver’s debut novel is a complex, beautifully turned-out thriller. Set in 1999–2000 and told by trust-funded failed writer Winnie Prescott, the narrative (which includes a role for Winnie’s childhood friend Patty Hearst) centers on Lorraine Nadia, who has recently died, and her legal secretary daughter, Stardust. Shortly after her mother’s death, Stardust encounters a disheveled man on a Philadelphia commuter train who notes cryptically that “Your mother and I, we go way back.” He turns out to be local factory owner Chuck Puckman, whose younger, more radical self was a lover of Lorraine’s—as was Frederick Keane, the infamous Volcano Bomber, who remains in hiding. The novel shuttles back and forth between Chuck, Lorraine and Frederick’s eventually diverging paths; Chuck’s present struggles to save his manufacturing business after an environmental disaster; and Stardust’s efforts to piece together the story and search for Frederick. Silver handles all of the elements cleanly, writing convincingly in the voice of Winnie, who has never been good at much of anything. The plot has real bite—no matter what one’s political persuasion. (Sept. 1)”
– PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY, Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

“Backward-Facing Man is a cautionary tale about the need to acknowledge and seek redemption for wrongful actions, because trying to ignore or forget them is self-destructive. Although this is Silver’s first novel, he learned his lessons well.”
– Philadelphia Inquirer, November 17, 2005