Sunday, February 27, 2022

Five novels that feel like a trippy haunted house

Isaac Fellman is the author of The Breath of the Sun (published under his pre-transition first name), which won the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. He is an archivist at a queer historical society in San Francisco.

His new novel is Dead Collections.

At Fellman tagged "five novels that make me feel as if any structure I read them in—the break room, my studio apartment, a bus shelter, a train—is a haunted house," including:
Severance by Ling Ma

Remember in 2020, when Severance had a moment? Everyone was talking about the pandemic sections, their unexpected resonance and their realism: the masks, the paranoia. But Ma’s novel, a zombie story about an illness that makes the infected mindlessly repeat their daily routines until their bodies decay, transcends “relevance”—as it also transcends attempts to categorize it as a comedy or a drama. (One thing all of these books have in common is that they are all funny tragedies, or melancholy tragicomedies, which draw their power from the feelings we can’t name.)

Years letter, what I remember about Severance is its wistfulness, as Ma’s heroine Candace tries to find meaning in her experiences: going to work at a company with no other living employees, falling in with a cultish group of fantasists in a mall, grieving her mother by wearing her old Contempo Casuals slip dresses. It doesn’t need to be relevant to our experience, although with its supple central metaphor, it often is. Its relevance is to Candace, as a person holding on to hope, and whom we come to love.
Read about another entry on the list.

Severance is among Simon Han's eight titles where things don't go that well.

--Marshal Zeringue