Requiem, Mass.

John Dufresne, Author . Norton $24.95 (316p) ISBN 978-0-393-05790-4

In the latest from Dufresne (Love Warps the Mind a Little ) novelist John’s newest manuscript doesn’t impress his girlfriend, Annick, who thinks “it doesn’t breathe.” So he goes back and rewrites it as a memoir: a book within a book. In it, Johnny and Audrey grow up in Requiem, Mass., with their unraveling mother, Frances, who believes her children were replaced by aliens and who bathes in gasoline. Their secretive truck driver father, Rainey, almost certainly has something odd going on down South. The book unfolds like a series of nesting dolls: John meanders around his coastal Florida home, writing his novel, visiting with friends and going on appointments for teaching jobs, while Johnny lives with his mother’s worsening condition, his father’s absences, his mother’s hospitalization and a momentous trip South. Then there are stories within the memoir within the story, including the one a woman tells about her friend, Ginger Rae, who talks of writing a neighbor’s suicide note, then claims it’s part of a story she herself is writing. John is a very amusing unreliable narrator, and Dufresne’s witty, sardonic take on life’s fictions leaps off the page. (July)

Reviewed on: 03/10/2008
Release date: 07/01/2008
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 322 pages - 978-0-393-33486-9
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-393-06941-9
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