L'Air du Temps (1985)

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In 1985, the shooting of Mr. Marfeo disrupts the quiet suburban neighborhood of Maple Bay and prompts thirteen-year-old Zinnia Zompa to reorganize everything she knows about her parents—their preoccupations, obsessions, and above all, their battles with each other. As her understanding of the world grows, Zinnia sees how the violence she witnesses is part of a larger pattern of domination, one that shadows the world far beyond her neighborhood, and that coming of age means reckoning with this darkness.

Praise for L'Air du Temps (1985)

"Josefowicz provides plenty of rich period detail through the voice of her spunky heroine. ... Fiends for 1980s nostalgia ought to seek this out."

Publishers Weekly

"This insightful, darkly humorous novella starts in an unexpected place for a coming-of-age story: with a murder. But as the story unfolds, the crime itself recedes into the background as we learn how the events–and people–surrounding the murder come to affect both the protagonist, 13-year-old Zinnia Zompa, and her mother. The result is a haunting examination of how others’ choices and behaviors can affect us, perhaps indelibly."

Small Press Picks [read the full review]

"Diane Josefowicz’s L’Air Du Temps (1985), is a layered novella about the juxtaposed relationships we have with our family, our communities, and ourselves."

Motif, RI [read the full review]

"The triumph in this work is how perfectly Josefowicz is able to capture the distance one feels in childhood, in young adolescence, with the world they are entering. A common symbol throughout this work is the car, large old cars that drive like boats. These 'Guinea canoes,' Mercurys and Lincolns, move slowly but, like tanks, become unstoppable. This echoes Zinnia’s journey in adulthood and into understanding. She will continue to move forward, slowly and surely, until she reaches a better understanding of her parents and ultimately herself, as the ride never stops but only continues to reveal secrets as time passes by."

Exacting Clam [read the full review]

"It’s 1985, the MTV flag is on the moon, and Lincoln Continentals are triplicating in the New England suburb of Maple Bay, where everyone who’s not in jail or divorce court is going off the deep end. A vintage murder-mystery that's evergreen as a chemically-treated lawn, this smart, tight novella is the arresting and singular cry of thirteen-year-old Zinnia Zompa, who's troubling the shadows, swerving toward an awakening that might or might not be her ticket out of town."

—Kirstin Allio, author of Double-Check for Sleeping Children, winner of the Catherine L. Doctorow Prize

"L’Air du Temps (1985) is a gorgeously written exploration of memory and childhood—of the things we choose not to know, and how they live in us against our will. Josefowicz takes us on an intoxicating deep dive into the psyche of America just before now, when consumerism was in full swing and mystery seemed to have been killed off forever. In Josefowicz's fictional Maple Bay, mystery is far from dead—it’s alive, kicking, and doing big mischief. This supremely supple, surprising, and sneaky-clever book made me start reading again the moment I finished."

—Robin McLean, author of Pity the Beast

"This novella is so finely etched, you can smell the over-the-counter hair dye, feel the backseat velour, taste the Diet Coke. The crime that sets Zinnia’s life moving in a new direction also sharpens her vision, and what a thrill it is to be along for the ride."

—Clare Beams, author of The Illness Lesson and The Garden

"L'Air du Temps is a marvel, a genre-defying hybrid, a comic portrait of a 1980s New England family that’s also a murder mystery. Zinnia Zompa is a fabulously astute witness to the undercurrents of her parents' unraveling marriage, all the while navigating her own shifting desires. In this gorgeous story, Josefowicz combines subtle social commentary with a radical new twist on the coming-of-age tale."

—Susan Daitch, author of Siege of Comedians

"Josefowicz brilliantly spins a web of desire and deception in this sly coming-of-age story wrapped around a murder mystery. At once haunting and tender, L’Air Du Temps (1985) captures the essence of an era."

—Dawn Raffel, author of Boundless as the Sky

"Atmospheric and affecting, darkly funny and nostalgic, L'Air du Temps (1985) opens up the technicolor world of Zinnia Zompa, aged thirteen. Josefowicz has mastered the nuances of familial experience: No one is who they seem, and yet, they are exactly as they seem. The brilliance of Josefowicz’s storytelling is in what she withholds, deftly showing through powerful omission all that Zinnia cannot. Visceral, restrained, intentional, and complex, L’Air du Temps is a transporting portrait of growing up in a family with secrets."

—Kalani Pickhart, author of I Will Die in a Foreign Land

"This sly novella will take you on an unforgettable ride. At first, all you'll feel is the wind blowing in through the moonroof, but beware: there’s something hiding in the trunk. Josefowicz deftly steers us through beautiful, manicured suburbia, revealing the brutality just beneath the surface. A remarkable read."

—Alena Graedon, author of The Word Exchange

"When the murder of a neighbor jolts Zinnia Zompa’s world—1980s suburban New England, complete with macrame plant slings, Sweet Valley High books, and Lincoln Continentals—the young teen is thrust toward a dawning awareness of the high, and often harrowing, cost of the American Dream. Propulsive and transporting, Diane Josefowicz’s L’Air du Temps (1985) is filled with the shadows we pretend not to see."

—Jen Fawkes, author Daughters of Chaos

"At once nostalgic, mysterious, heart-rending, and sweet, this book is as fine and lovely as a butterfly’s wing but somehow carries the weight of an entire family. Point of fact: Josefowicz has created a miracle."

—C.B. Bernard, author of Small Animals Caught In Traps and Ordinary Bear