Monday, May 7, 2012

how the dead dream by lydia millet

I have been eyeballing this book for several years, and finally read it in one gloriously long afternoon sitting, coffee by my side. Lydia Millet combines all of my favorites: a loveable borderline autistic loner (okay, not everyone will find him loveable - as a kid he makes money protecting the bullied), absurd hilarity presiding over grief, a strong supporting cast of societal misfits, and a wicked dose of black humour, all pulled together in a tidy little knot of human decline. T is working as a real estate developer and living in Los Angeles when his mother shows up to tell him his father has disappeared, throwing a wrench into the clockwork of T's ordered yet comfortable existence. His mother's untimely arrival coincides with the beginnings of his first real love relationship, and results in a series of tragic losses (sorry, no spoilers). T takes solace in studying rare and vanishing species at the zoo, breaking in at night to privately observe the last of their kind while he calls his own existence into question: "when the others left and they were all that you had, when all the ones that you loved had died: so it was, for last animals and for him." HTDD is the first in a trilogy and I'm planning on staying up all night to read the next book, Ghost Lights. I completely agree with The Village Voice on this one: "If Kurt Vonnegut were still alive, he would be extremely jealous." Give it to fans of Vonnegut, Torsten Kroll, and Joey Goebel. Not to be missed. Grade 10+