cover image Imagine Me Gone

Imagine Me Gone

Adam Haslett. Little, Brown, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-0-316-26135-7

Here was the world unfettered by dread... The present had somehow ceased to be an emergency,” writes Michael, the eldest son of a tightly knit British-American family, when he receives his first dose of Klonopin. Pulitzer-finalist Haslett’s latest is a sprawling, ambitious epic about a family bound not only by familial love, but by that sense of impending emergency that hovers around Michael, who has inherited his father John’s abiding depression and anxiety. The book begins with the family as a nuclear unit, the narrative switching among the parents and the kids (Michael, Celia, and Alec), as a cure for Michael’s condition seems close. When tragedy undermines the unit, though, the search for an antidote takes on a new urgency, as Michael cycles through obsessions with music and girlfriends, and Celia and Alec attempt to keep their own relationships afloat. This is a book that tenderly and luminously deals with mental illness and with the life of the mind. Occasionally, the narrative style (it switches among monologues, letters, and messages from the doctor’s office) feels stiff. But in Michael, Haslett has created a most memorable character. This is a hypnotic and haunting novel. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM Partners. (May)