A “moving, astounding, and totally unsettling” (Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author) literary debut following two patients in recovery after an experimental memory drug warps their lives.
Lucien moves to Los Angeles to be with his grandmother as she undergoes an experimental treatment for Alzheimer’s using the new drug, Memoroxin. An emerging photographer, he’s also running from the sudden death of his mother, a well-known artist whose legacy haunts him.
Sophie has just landed the lead in the upcoming performance of La Sylphide with the Los Angeles Ballet Company. She still waitresses at the Chateau Marmont during her off hours, witnessing the recreational use of Memoroxin—or Mem—among the Hollywood elite.
When Lucien and Sophie meet at The Center, founded by an ambitious yet conflicted doctor to treat patients who’ve abused Mem, they have no memory of how they got there—or why they feel so inexplicably drawn to each other. Is it attraction, or something they cannot remember from “before”?
“Contemplative and wonderfully evocative, finishing The Shimmering State is like waking from a dream, where you reenter the world with fresh eyes and wonder at the frailty of your own memories” (Jessica Chiarella, author of The Lost Girls).
A dangerous new party drug hits the streets of Los Angeles in Westgate's ambitious debut. Mem, short for Memoroxin, an experimental, shimmering pill, contains a person's happy memories, which they've selected. While Mem is manufactured to help those with Alzheimer's, trauma, and mental illness, it becomes a hot black-market item thanks to its ability to allow people "to experience a moment as someone else." Lucien, a flailing photographer, steals his grandmother's Mem pills in hopes of seeing his deceased mother through the grandmother's memories. Sophie, an ambitious ballerina and a waitress at Chateau Marmont, also gets hooked on Mem. Both Lucien and Sophie end up in a rehab facility run by the drug's producers, where they form a deep connection and Lucien feels they've met before. When they're out, they collaborate on a film project inspired by Lucien's grandmother's memory. In chapters alternating before and after the rehab stint, Westgate weaves a tight tale of relationships and loneliness in a city populated by people always on the hunt for the next big escape. It's a captivating story, one that leaves readers wondering if a life scrubbed of pain and real connection is a life at all.