A young man begins a life-altering journey after his ex-girlfriend's suicide in this dazzling LA Times bestselling novel about the exploration of life, death, and love.
After Wayne Fencer, a recent film school grad, attends his ex-girlfriend's funeral, he struggles to come to terms with her suicide and the startling news that she was pregnant with his child. Desperate to understand and haunted by regret, Wayne begins a journey that takes him up and down the East Coast (on foot) and across the American West (in an RV), finally arriving at the Costco Soulmate Trading Outpost in the middle of the Black Rock Desert. Along the way, Wayne's journey becomes a series of meditations on modern life, drawing on everything from the ancient philosophy of Siddhartha Gautama to a visit with Gregorio Fuentes, Hemingway's fishing guide and inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea.
"An ironic, often humorous take on the anomie of youth" (People), and set in the era of information overload, Attention. Deficit. Disorder. is a highly original novel that exhibits an unforgettable voice.
The title of Listi's debut diagnoses the novel's malady: a jangly, unfocused plot that caroms off pop cultural flotsam in an attempt to evoke the potpourri of postmodern existence. This lurching ride begins as 20-something Wayne Fencer, a defeated day-trader and idling pizza delivery boy with a B.F.A. in avant-garde filmmaking, attends the funeral of an ex-girlfriend in San Francisco who has committed suicide. Wayne can find few words of condolence and instead strafes the reader with a fusillade of facts on suicide, death and mourning, a distancing device that Listi relies on throughout the novel. The news that Wayne's ex aborted his child in college sends the narrative machinery sputtering to life, with Listi shuttling his hero across the country (after jaunts to Mexico and Cuba) in a neo-beatnik search for meaning. Wayne's encounters trigger all manner of intrusive digression, from boldface definitions of key words (e.g. "pheramone," "megalopolis," "absinthe") to bulky movie plot summaries that detract from the novel's story. With this Trivial Pursuit like tic, Listi aims to capture the fragmented worldview of a coolly detached generation, but a few wedges are missing.
I thought this book was about ADD when I first heard of it. I liked it anyway!