... yet another inventive excavation of the past ... Each is a minor masterpiece, and both gain resonance in juxtaposition with each other. Together they form a witty and moving portrait of American life going back a half-century or more ... Ms. Shorr’s novella appears at first to be little more than a casual memoir of her eccentric WASP in-laws. But the story soon establishes itself as something much more—a bewitching elegy to a vanishing aristocracy ... Ms. Shorr excels at capturing the arc of a relationship as well as of a life, and in her unsentimental hands we see the extent to which necessity, when it comes to marriage, can be the mother of invention. Above all, both these fine novellas unfurl the kind of complicated family tapestries that every generation ends up weaving from money and love.
Victoria Shorr uses a pair of novellas in Mid-Air to contrast two quintessentially American families, one clinging to an impeccably well-connected past and the other roughly scrambling to build a fortune for the future...Edward Perkins’s buttoned-up style is a far cry from that of the 13-year-old immigrant who arrives at Ellis Island in Shorr’s second novella, 'Cleveland Auto Wrecking'...What links the Perkinses and the Whites, apart from the fact that their trajectories are meeting 'midair'?...For starters, there’s Shorr’s eye for telling detail as she unreels the families’ varied experiences...And then there’s her insightful acknowledgment that those experiences are transformed as they sink into the past, that their subtle shadings will inevitably be lost.
... not the proverbial but elusive Great American Novel. Rather, it is two great American novellas and two very different, unique perspectives from which to consider the tug of America’s past and the pull of its opportunities. Alone, either of these affecting stories would have been an engrossing read; together, they offer a motherlode of questions and issues, not to mention wonderful fodder for book groups ... Shorr is a wonderful stylist whose propulsive prose reflects the nature of memory itself, alighting here, then there, then back here. Moreover, given that 'Great Uncle Edward' is about a decidedly WASPY family, Shorr sidesteps the temptation to slip into irony and instead treats her subjects with kindness ... achieves what all fine fiction must: With nary a hint of being doctrinaire, its characters’ lives unfold in the midst of history’s ebb and flow.