On Midsummer's Eve, 2008, three people, each on the run from a failed relationship, are trapped in San Francisco's Buena Vista Park (a home in exile for Titania and Oberon and their court). And on this night, something unusual and awful is happening in the faerie kingdom. In a fit of sadness over the end of her marriage, which broke up over the death of her adopted son, Titania has set loose an ancient menace, and the chaos that ensues upends and threatens the lives of mortals and immortals alike.
The three heartbroken lovers will become lost in the park, and under the park, and within the memories of the people they lost or drove away, and each will realize through the course of the night that this is not the first time their lives have been touched by magic. Suffering an all-too-human despair, and in thrall to an old enemy, Titania puts all the resources of her kingdom at the disposal of a homeless man who thinks he can bring down the mayor of San Francisco by staging a musical production of Soylent Green. Before the night ends the mortals are caught, the show is staged and Titania discovers, at great cost, a way to undo the menace she's set free, if not to undo her grief.
Selected by the New Yorker as one of the best young writers in America, Adrian has created a singularly playful, moving and humorous novel – a story that effortlessly crosses the borders between reality and dreams, suffering and magic, and mortality and immortality.
Adrian follows his masterful The Children's Hospital with a disappointing and decidedly less ambitious effort, a flabby retelling of A Midsummer Night's Dream that finds a heartbroken Titania loosening a demonic Puck on San Francisco's Buena Vista Park. Caught up in the mayhem are Henry, a neurotic gay man whose affair has just ended; Molly, a young woman turned inward after the suicide of her boyfriend; Will, a lovelorn tree doctor trying to get his lady back; and a group staging a musical remake of Soylent Green to explain the decline of San Francisco's homeless population. Adrian liberally applies surreal sex jokes and populates his adventure with bizarre fairies, impossible events, and extensive backstories, but this investigation into love's labors never ignites. Adrian occasionally channels the wayward, winsome feel of millennial San Francisco, but his characters remains wispy and his plot fails to develop satisfying turns. The book contains flashes of what makes this writer great, but he has better work in him.