Cover image for Holding fire : a love story
Holding fire : a love story
Wald, Elissa.
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Publication Information:
New York : Context Books : Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2001]

Physical Description:
275 pages ; 24 cm
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"Elissa Wald's first novel renders the lives of three New York City firemen and the people closest to them. Among them is Alicia, a stripper and aspiring writer in search of the man who rescued her more than two decades ago; Seamus O'Day, firehouse captain and fire department football coach, whose career has culminated in what the Bravest call "The Supreme Sacrifice"; Matilda O'Day, wife, mother and untimely widow; and a cast of other heroic yet all-too-human characters." "At the story's heart is Captain Jonah Malone, a Vietnam veteran and recovered alcoholic, whose courage in the face of fire has made him a living legend within the ranks of the FDNY - and whose transcendent career comes at a staggering price. Haunted by the war and driven by his own private demons, Captain Malone is a consummate professional in any catastrophe but less equipped to handle the civilian side of life - especially his many opportunities for long-term intimacy and love. His readiness to brave anything to save others has made him the most decorated firefighter in New York City, but left him at a loss when it comes to saving himself."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

New York City firefighters assume center stage in this meandering, sometimes clumsy debut novel. Alicia, a writer of bad poetry who strips to pay the bills, jump-starts the action when she rediscovers Jonah Malone, the fireman who saved her life when she was five but only after Wald spends the first few chapters chronicling Alicia's torrid three-month affair with another fireman, Jake Schiller, the very model of homophobic manliness. The improbable relationship between Alicia and Jonah culminates in marriage, though wedded bliss quickly deteriorates because of several factors: the psychological wounds caused by Jonah's abusive upbringing and service in Vietnam; the jealous machinations of Wes, Jonah's wealthy gay mentor; and a tragic fire that kills three firemen and figuratively envelopes Jonah in its aftermath. Wald, whose first book, Meeting the Master, was a collection of s&m tales and poetry, tries to spice things up with plenty of sex indeed, it seems every firefighter in New York is a muscular but sensitive stud. The novel piles on the clich?s ("like a light at the end of the night's tunnel") and flows unevenly, straying too often into bodice-ripper territory (including a mock rape or two), and on several occasions the firefighters grow indistinguishable from one another. Moreover, Alicia remains a half-formed character, her motivations and background a mystery that continuously vexes, because Wald employs her as a thread tying various characters together. The ease, for example, with which she falls in love with the much older, emotionally scarred Jonah is puzzling, lending the relationship a superficial sheen. Although Wald has taken on some interesting material here, the novel never really heats up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved