Panorama City (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Antoine Wilson's new novel, Panorama City, tells the story of Oppen Porter, a man from Madera who moves to the big city of Panorama. He is questing to become a "man of the world," a man pulled by strangers towards born-again Christianity, servitude, and alienation from love. He is a being of extreme wisdom in objectivity, and as such, takes the reader through an ameliorative reconfiguration of their culture, whether it's a new way to experience french fries or the mechanical pleasures of a moving bicycle. Oppen levels consistent profundity at the reader, achieving that most sacred experience of encountering harmonious thought written by a stranger. Like the best food, the book's ostensibly simple ingredients reconfigure in the mind to form new and complex arrangements and an openness only achieved in the best literature. Wilson's impeccably original voice breeds a fresh literary language for experiencing the often overwhelming foreignness of local American culture, echoing structural similarities with stylists like Bohumil Hrabal, Tatyana Tolstaya, and Haruki Murakami. Contemporary writers of serious fiction are faced with an incredibly difficult task: adequately dealing with the complexities of modern American life. How can one mind's humble story on paper and ink compete with the transhumanist narratives of Apple, the byzantine dramas of the financial sector, and the inscrutable cultural significance of reality TV? Panorama City impressively challenges the hegemony of these national narratives and offers its own, an original artifice that bolsters moral strength with humility and wisdom with humor. -- Cameron Carlson

— From October 2012


Oppen Porter, a self-described “slow absorber,” thinks he’s dying. He’s not, but from his hospital bed, he unspools into a cassette recorder a tale of self-determination, from village idiot to man of the world, for the benefit of his unborn son. 

Written in an astonishingly charming and wise voice, Panorama City traces forty days and nights navigating the fast food joints, storefront churches, and home-office psychologists of the San Fernando Valley. Ping-ponging between his watchful and sharp-tongued aunt and an outlaw philosopher with the face "of a newly hatched crocodile," Oppen finds himself constantly in the sights of people who believe that their way is the only way for him. 

Open-hearted, bicycle-riding, binocular-toting Oppen Porter is "an American original" (Stewart O'Nan) for whom finding one's own way is both a delightful art and a painstaking science. Disarmingly funny and surreptitiously moving, Panorama City makes us see the world, and our place in it, with new eyes.

About the Author

ANTOINE WILSON is the author of the novel The Interloper and a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. He is a contributing editor of A Public Space and lives and surfs in Los Angeles. Visit

Praise For…

“Clever and wisely funny.”—Ellissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

"A gift . . . An astonishing narrative that offers the pleasures of irony without the sting . . . Nowhere in [Oppen's] purview is there blame or regret. He travels from innocence to experience without falling into disillusionment. The great triumph of the book is that Oppen matures without spoiling. He comes to affirm the integrity of his innocence, which is its own wisdom."—Amy Parker, Los Angeles Review of Books

"A crisp comic novel...This isn't, by heritage, a California book....Panorama City's spent quality, its ruminative room, recalls some of the best of the mid-century South, New Orleans specifically, The Moviegoer and A Confederacy of Dunces, particularly. Those books never mistook time spent seeing through a cracked idea for a loss of urgency. Their absurdism was a claim on the page, a strong-arm of a story from the concluders...Wilson's [novel] is a trot and a treat."—Theo Schell-Lambert, San Francisco Chronicle

"In his second novel, Antoine Wilson brings much comedic grace and a sure feel for Southern California. In spots, Panorama City is laugh-aloud funny, building toward a slapstick climax that the Marx Brothers might have relished . . . Wilson has said his aphoristic, funny novel is meant to make a case for direct observation over ideology. It does. It is also worth cheering for taking a route rare in serious contemporary fiction: finding a way to a happy ending."—Cleveland Plain Dealer

“As enjoyable a comic novel as I have read all year, a coming of age story that vividly captures the modern world through innocent eyes.”—Largehearted Boy

“Idiosyncratic…Charming…Indelible.”—Josh Mak, Flavorwire

"Oppen Porter is an American original, an innocent who believes he's bursting with wisdom. The funniest thing is that, despite himself, he actually is. Though it takes place in down-at-heel Panorama City with its crappy burger franchises and abandoned shopping carts, The World According to Oppen is full of wonders and mysteries." —Stewart O’Nan

" This funny and wise novel reminds one that the best fiction often treads the subtle line between tragedy and comedy. With ears keenly tuned to the music of language, and a limpid mind slyly hidden behind a persistent soliloquist, Antoine Wilson has written an intricate novel that makes us laugh and cry. "— Yiyun Li, author of Gold Boy, Emerald Girl

"God bless Oppen Porter! His innocence and lack of pretense are our good fortune and our delight. Under his observation, our follies and schemes and manias go up in the brightest, funniest, heartrending flames. This is precisely (and artfully) because he does not judge them. Panorama City is charming and absurd, very funny and, best of all, humane through and through." —Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers

"This is a book you will hold in your head all day long, a book you will look forward to when you get home from work, a book you will still be savoring as you drift into sleep. Panorama City is often very funny. It is filled with joy and wonder, and a sort of goodness you had stopped believing might be even possible. Antoine Wilson’s sentences are like diamond necklaces but his greatest treasure is his human heart." —Peter Carey

"Antoine Wilson draws us in to the weird, wonderful world of Oppen Porter, whose advice and lessons are jarringly original, funny, and moving." —Steve Hely, author of How I Became a Famous Novelist, Winner of the Thurber Award

"Wilson’s Panorama City is a candid and perceptive exploration of how families connect and how society’s most popular methods of advancement may not always be the most beneficial. Oppen is an excellent judge of character, and Wilson’s ability to sketch out such an ideal narrator should be commended. Readers who enjoy Mark Haddon and Greg Olear will appreciate Wilson’s authorial voice, which blends Oppen’s good-natured naïveté and humorous asides with incisive cynicism. A funny, heartfelt, and genuine novel." —Booklist

"Wilson’s second novel (after Interloper) is fresh and flawlessly crafted as well as charmingly genuine. Oppen Porter is almost 30, a guileless man who lives in a small central California town with his reclusive father in a house overtaken by nature….Oppen experiments with various roles—dedicated worker, student of religion, thinker—eventually finding his place in the world, framing a classic coming-of-age story in an unexpected way." —STARRED Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9780547875125
ISBN-10: 0547875126
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication Date: September 25th, 2012
Pages: 304
Language: English