Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Pg. 69: Lydia Millet's "How the Dead Dream"

The current feature at the Page 69 Test: How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millet.

About the book, from the publisher:
T. is a young Los Angeles real estate developer consumed by power and political ambitions. His orderly, upwardly mobile life is thrown into chaos by the sudden appearance of his nutty mother, who’s been deserted by T.’s now out-of-the-closet father. After his mother’s suicide attempt and two other deaths, T. finds himself increasingly estranged from his latest project: a retirement community in the middle of the California desert. As he juggles family, business, and social responsibilities, T. begins to nurture a curious obsession with vanishing species. Soon he’s living a double life, building sprawling subdivisions by day and breaking into zoos at night to be near the animals. A series of calamities forces T. to a tropical island, where he takes a Conrad-esque journey up a river into the remote jungle. Millet’s devastating wit, psychological acuity, and remarkable empathy for flawed humankind contend with her vision of a world slowly murdering itself.
Among the praise for How the Dead Dream:
"In a work just as startling, powerful, and significant as her brilliantly inventive Oh Pure and Radiant Heart (2005), Millet, a writer of encompassing empathy and imaginative lyricism, and a satirist of great wit and heart, takes readers on an intelligently conceived and devastating journey into the heart of extinction. Millets extraordinary leap of a novel warns us that as the splendor and mystery of the natural world is replaced by the human-made,our species faces a lonely and spiritually impoverished future."
—Donna Seaman, Booklist, starred review

"Millet proves no less lyrical, haunting or deliciously absurd in her brilliant sixth novel than in her fifth, the acclaimed Oh Pure & Radiant Heart.... At once an involving character study and a stunning meditation on loss — planetary and otherwise — Millet’s latest unfolds like a beautiful, disturbing dream."
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"[Millet's] best when she makes startlingly odd events seem wholly real. The final act takes T. deep into the jungle for a conclusion that's both terrifying and moving. Yes, there's an argument for environmental protection here, but what's more profound is Millet's understanding of the loneliness and alienation in a world being poisoned to death."
—Ron Charles, Washington Post Book Review
Read an excerpt from How the Dead Dream. Learn more about the author and her writing at the How the Dead Dream publisher's website and Lydia Millet's website.

Millet is the author of Omnivores, George Bush, Dark Prince of Love, My Happy Life, a winner of the 2003 PEN-USA Award for Fiction, Everyone’s Pretty, and Oh Pure and Radiant Heart.

The Page 99 Test: My Happy Life.

The Page 69 Test: How the Dead Dream.

--Marshal Zeringue