High-Altitude Hilobrow

By: Matthew Battles
April 22, 2009

aerocycleMELDING ‘PATA­PHYSICS and popular mechanics, Proust and power tools, Dada and do-it-yourself, Eric Kraft is a hilobrow novelist par excellence. With the publication of his latest novel, Flying Home, Kraft’s cracked mythology is arguably complete (Flying Home completes the trilogy Flying— but many extracanonical stories branch off the main stem, charted in a host of picaresque novellas). “If you were to pick up a hitchhiking Jorge Luis Borges and Robert Pirsig,” I write in a review of Flying in the BN Review, “or listen as Thomas Pynchon recited Ulysses from memory over longnecks on J. D. Salinger’s tab, you might catch the flavor of Eric Kraft’s work.”

Flying concerns the exploits of Peter Leroy of Babbington, Long Island, who as a teenager builds an flying motorcyle, pilots it on a transcontinental voyage, and spends the rest of his life sorting out the consequences. In honor of Peter’s craft, The Spirit of Babbington, we’ve embedded a video of a real-life counterpart: the SportCopter 2. It’s a gyroplane — its rotor acts as a wing, using aerodynamic principles known to Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s the color of Snoopy’s doghouse, and the closest thing I know to a flying motorcycle. Here’s to Eric Kraft — and to hilo aviation!