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Nova, Craig

35 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0395709385 / ISBN 13: 9780395709382
Published by Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1997
Used Hardcover
From Rare Book Cellar (Pomona, NY, U.S.A.)

AbeBooks Seller Since November 24, 2001

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About this Item

Near Fine in a Very Good+ dust jacket. ; 1.1 x 9.3 x 6.3 Inches; 250 pages. Bookseller Inventory # 27049

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Bibliographic Details


Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, Boston

Publication Date: 1997

Binding: Hardcover

Edition: First Edition; First Printing.

About this title


Craig Nova's novels "deserve to be ranked among the best American fiction of the past two decades," writes Jonathan Yardley in the Washington Post Book World. "Unlike most of his contemporaries, he isn't content with self-referential miniatures; even when his novels are short, they go after the big questions in a big way. Furthermore, the more he writes the better he gets; at this point in his career, scarcely anyone else is in his league."

In this, his ninth novel, Nova tells a suspenseful story of modern passion and complex human motives. Set in contemporary Los Angeles against a background of riots and random acts of violence, The Universal Donor evokes a world where life and love are at every turn menaced by unknown forces, not all of them external to ourselves. Like Paul Auster, Joan Didion, or Robert Stone, Nova takes us beneath the sun-soaked, orderly surface of American life and offers a glimpse of something darker and wilder.

Virginia Lee is a scientist, a proudly rational woman who acts on what she thinks, never on what she feels. When she marries for reasons more practical than romantic, she is shocked at the "safety" with which she's lived her life. She begins to take risks, and soon goes much too far.

Terry McKechnie is a physician whose emergency-room cases challenge his sense of what is true about his world, his work, and himself. He is growing numb to his own humanity. Then he meets Virginia.

At the center of this couple's story is a freakish accident, a moment of willful carelessness whose complications, both medical and emotional, multiply out of control. At once a thriller, a love story, and a compassionate exploration of moral choices, The Universal Donor is a waking nightmare of a book, bathed in a compelling dream light all its own.


In his ninth novel, The Universal Donor, Craig Nova mixes elements of the thriller into a thoughtful story of ethics, both professional and personal. His protagonist is Dr. Terry McKechnie, the son and grandson of physicians who finds himself questioning his vocation after working the graveyard shift at a Los Angeles hospital emergency room. Faced with gunshot wounds, stabbings, drug overdoses, and the myriad other hopeless conditions that flood the ER night after night, he soon begins to wonder if it's possible to stem the tide of death in a populace bristling with weaponry. Just as McKechnie begins to grow numb to humanity, he meets Virginia Lee, a scientist engaged to his best friend. When the two fall in love, The Universal Donor begins an exploration of moral choices that heats up considerably when Virginia is injured in a freak accident and requires a blood transfusion--no simple matter, since she has an extremely rare blood type.

Soon McKechnie is embroiled in a dark hunt for a potential donor for his beloved Virginia, a search that takes him into an urban jungle where the rules he grew up with no longer apply. How far is he willing to go to get what he needs? This is the question Nova's novel asks--and answers. Craig Nova is one of the most underrated writers in America; let's hope that The Universal Donor will make more readers aware of his talent.

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