Hystopia

David Means. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-86547-913-5
After four story collections, Means delivers his first novel, and it’s a dazzling and singular trip. The novel within this novel is flanked by interviews, editorial clarifications, and multiple attempts at a suicide note by “author” Eugene Allen, a Vietnam vet who reconciles the death of his sister by writing the story of three wounded Vietnam vets and two wounded women connected by repressed—or “enfolded”—trauma. Returning vets have their traumas—and all other associated memories—erased by the Psych Corps, a federal agency created by J.F.K., who has survived six assassination attempts and three terms in office as the 1960s draw to a brutal close. Rake, on whom the enfolding treatment didn’t work, frees Meg from Corps treatment and keeps her captive on a murderous rampage across Michigan. They take shelter with fellow vet Hank, who has partially reversed his enfolding treatment and quietly plots to save Meg from Rake. Meanwhile, drug-addled Corps agents Wendy and Singleton embark on a “mission gone haywire” in pursuit of Rake. The two narratives alternate between briefly disorienting perspective shifts but eventually converge. Means (The Spot) writes stunning prose and draws his characters with verve—Rake is a memorable psychopath. This tale reads like an acid flashback, complete with the paranoia, manic monologues, and violent visions, proving that some traumas never go away. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/08/2016
Release date: 04/19/2016
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-0-374-71487-1
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-1-250-11838-7
MP3 CD - 978-1-5366-1977-5
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