cover image Mount Terminus

Mount Terminus

David Grand. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-0-374-28088-8

As this visionary novel from Grand (Louse) begins, around the close of the 19th century, recently widowed Jacob Rosenbloom is taking his nine-year-old son, Joseph (called Bloom), west by train to live at a villa atop Mount Terminus, above Los Angeles. It seems that the ingenious Jacob made a fortune inventing a revolutionary piece of movie-making machinery that he sold to Edison. Bloom grows up at a remove from life below Mount Terminus until the day a young man named Simon enters his life. He turns out to be Bloom’s older half-brother from an affair Jacob had with his wife Rachel’s twin sister, Leah. After Jacob’s death, it is Simon, an opportunist who sees Los Angeles’s potential, who encourages his half-brother, a luftmensch, to seek a career in the nascent movie business. Bloom goes on to become a storyboard artist for the director Elias Gottlieb, who tells him he will never be a great artist in his own right until he experiences love. Bloom heeds this advice, but with unintended consequences. Grand manages to infuse the Harold Robbins–like turns of this melodramatic plot with the Old World poetic sensibility of an Isaac Bashevis Singer. Although a little too dramatically diffuse to grip the reader fully, this is nevertheless a wondrously dreamlike evocation of the City of Angels. Agent: Jin Auh, Wylie Agency. (March)