cover image Time’s Mouth

Time’s Mouth

Edan Lepucki. Counterpoint, $29 (400p) ISBN 978-1-64009-572-4

Lepucki’s enjoyable if convoluted latest (after Woman No. 17) follows the exploits of a time-traveling woman and her family’s intergenerational curse. Sharon is born in 1938, and at 16 flees her family in Connecticut after discovering a fantastical ability to revisit episodes from her past (she describes it as being “here and there at the same time”), which leads her to believe that her father, who died three years earlier, was abusive. She hitchhikes to California and reinvents herself as Ursa. In the 1970s, Ursa is a single mother raising her son, Ray, at a female-centered Santa Cruz commune, along with other “Mamas” who are drawn to Ursa’s mystic time-traveling capabilities. Meanwhile, Ray grows increasingly frustrated at being one of the only males allowed on the property. Eventually, he runs (as his mother once did), and ends up in Southern California with his pregnant girlfriend Cherry. After Ursa’s grandchild is born, the runaway cycle repeats. By the end, Lepucki reveals the details behind the trauma Ursa faced as a teen. Extensive asides on Wilhelm Reich’s orgone theories and his energy accumulator are bizarre and distracting, though Lepucki deploys plenty of evocative similes (for Ray, guilt feels like “a coat of paint covering his body, drying him into a kind of cast”). Thanks to Lepucki’s fine prose, this intrigues more than it frustrates. (Aug.)