Norton. Oct. 2022. 240p. ISBN 9781324021469. $26.95. F
Millet slips among various modes and genres, blends the commonplace and the conceptual with ease, and there’s an undeniable disposition to her novels that links them in spirit if not always in substance. Coming off the heavily allegorical A Children’s Bible, she returns with yet another pivot, which tells the story of Gil, a mid-40s man with immense inherited wealth who decides to leave New York City for Phoenix and proceeds to walk the entire way. This conceit alone offers plenty of meat for a Millet novel but actually takes up only the first few pages. The central story line follows Gil’s relationship with the family who moves next door, into a home with one entire side made of glass. Clearly, Millet isn’t entirely abandoning metaphor, but the author’s best trick is leveraging expectations in order to build tension, only to reveal that the narrative’s primary currency isn’t its littered symbolism but its profound sense of human intimacy. It’s about those who enter and exit our orbits, and Millet elegantly shapes the swirling chaos of existence into fragile, memorable human forms.
VERDICT More tender and less mercurial than anything Lydia Millet has written before, this is an elegant, subtle novel of profound emotional heft and deceptively simple prose of immense power, ending on a grace note that marks a high point in the author’s career.
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