“His first idol was Andrew Jackson.”
I managed to mess this one up pretty good. I started reading Lydia Millet books a few years ago, and when her new story collection Fight No More came out, I grabbed a few more off the shelf. I ended up reading Magnificence, which was one of the newer novels, and found it compelling but a little confusing. Then later I read Ghostlights, and found it both the same, and also oddly familiar, but I couldn’t place why exactly. Well the answer is that they were parts three, and then two in a trilogy that I had accidentally read in reverse order. Well, I finished up the trilogy now in backward order.
This book follows T, a young real estate business with an overbearing, and then dying mother, and a father who has abandoned him, having a moment of clarity when he accidentally kills a coyote with his car while driving. This death becomes a kind of singular and universal understanding of death at large, and begins to transform his life the more he thinks about it, and he can’t not think about it. This is a book more about process than results and the journey is the important part.
Like with later Millet books, this is a book about people noticing something that’s already doomed too late to do anything to save it. This idea occurs in a lot of her books, and her it reminds of the ways in which people has been asked in the 20th century maybe not to reckon with personal suffering at the levels far above people in the past (although sometimes) but to reckon with mass suffering immeasurably beyond those in the past, and how rather than making us more aware, it’s deadens us.