Farm for Mutes

Dimitri Anastasopoulos. Mammoth Books (Consortium, dist.), $15.95 trade paper (203pp) ISBN 978-1-59539-019-6
Anastasopoulos’s ambitious but unconvincing second novel (following A Larger Sense of Harvey) centers on an eccentric couple, Luther and Sybil Bouquie of Buffalo, N.Y. Luther spends his days restoring old film reels for a mysterious art project called the Attican Cultural Collaborative housed in a former Presbyterian church, while Sybil suffers from mysophobia, the pathological fear of germs—a condition intertwined with the novel’s exploration of their muted relationship. Luther’s occupation prompts references to the real-life figure of Edouard Leon Scott, inventor of the phonautograph, the first sound-recording device, and also connects to the otherwise inexplicable recurring motif of a space alien listening to the sounds of the universe, seemingly inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey: “A child looms over Earth with a tin-can telephone in his ear.” Anastasopoulos adds to the portentous tone with biological text about the survival techniques of various species. The characters are observed with an equally dispassionate eye, but too much of the prose sounds off-key (“the boys rode by a custard stand where they had spent many an afternoon”) for the book’s cosmic perspective on human existence to feel justified. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/13/2013
Genre: Fiction
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