In the tragicomic mode of his best-selling Louisiana Power & Light, a hilarious and tenderhearted novel about a son's attempts to save his family.
John Dufresne takes us to Requiem, Mass., heart of the Commonwealth, where Johnny's mom, Frances, is driving in the breakdown lane once again. She thinks Johnny and his little sister Audrey have been replaced by aliens; she's sure of it, and she's pretty certain that she herself is already dead, or she wouldn't need to cover the stink of her rotting flesh with Jean Naté Apres Bain. Dad, truck driver and pathological liar, is down South somewhere living his secret life. And Audrey, when she's not walking her cat Deluxe in a baby stroller, spends her time locked in a closet telling herself stories. Johnny, meanwhile, is hell-bent on saving the family from itself.
In his "truly original voice" (Miami Herald) and with the "miraculous beauty of his tale-telling" (New York Times Book Review), Dufresne brings his unparalleled eye for the tragic and the absurd to the dysfunctions and joys of family in this powerful new novel.
In the latest from Dufresne (Love Warps the Mind a Little) novelist John's newest manuscript doesn't impress his girlfriend, Annick, who thinks "it doesn't breathe." So he goes back and rewrites it as a memoir: a book within a book. In it, Johnny and Audrey grow up in Requiem, Mass., with their unraveling mother, Frances, who believes her children were replaced by aliens and who bathes in gasoline. Their secretive truck driver father, Rainey, almost certainly has something odd going on down South. The book unfolds like a series of nesting dolls: John meanders around his coastal Florida home, writing his novel, visiting with friends and going on appointments for teaching jobs, while Johnny lives with his mother's worsening condition, his father's absences, his mother's hospitalization and a momentous trip South. Then there are stories within the memoir within the story, including the one a woman tells about her friend, Ginger Rae, who talks of writing a neighbor's suicide note, then claims it's part of a story she herself is writing. John is a very amusing unreliable narrator, and Dufresne's witty, sardonic take on life's fictions leaps off the page.
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A wonderfully entertaining tragi-comic tale. Dufrense shows you consistently interesting people doing interesting things. Worth a look!