Rikki Ducornet. Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-1-56689-440-1
Ducornet has made an estimable career mining often bizarre, horrifying, or otherwise unpredictable territory. This novel is perhaps her most accessible book, which she achieves without sacrificing the trademark fluidity of her language or her penchant for making heroes out of odd and unlikely figures. The hero is Stub, a damaged and orphaned teenager who hangs around a college campus, masquerading as a student named Charter Chase. He eats food he steals from houses and lives in the storage room of the library. There, Stub/Charter becomes the devoted reader of a reclusive and ignored philosopher named Verner Vanderloon, whose works of eccentric anthropology include Primates in Paradise and Cannibal Ways; Stub also becomes fascinated with Asthma, the child of a local history professor. In the singular and enchanted Asthma—who lectures her toys, speculates on the religious leanings of the beetles in her backyard, and renames Stub “Brightfellow”—Stub finds a dreamer like himself. After he is adopted by doddering professor emeritus William Sweetbriar, the two become a sort of ersatz family to the young imposter. But Stub is harboring secrets no one suspects, and just as the discovery of his charade comes to seem inevitable, his obsession with Asthma takes a darker turn. Ducornet has written the oddest of varsity novels, one that anchors its charming caprice, philosophical fancy, and thriller-like pace to the psychological horror that lurks just beyond childhood innocence. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2016
Release date: 07/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 176 pages - 978-1-56689-441-8
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