cover image The Paper Man

The Paper Man

Gallagher Lawson. Unnamed Press (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-939419-22-4

In Lawson's strange and brilliant debut novel, a young man made of paper moves to an unnamed city to escape his overprotective family. After Michael suffered an accident when he was a teenager, his father rebuilt his physical body out of paper. He arrives in the city with dreams of being an artist and an overwhelming feeling that he can finally be free and accepted. But with the first unexpected rainfall%E2%80%94water being dangerous for his paper limbs%E2%80%94he finds that life in the city is more difficult than he had imagined. He is saved by a lonely woman named Maiko, who takes him in and helps him to find work. Complicating matters is the budding civil unrest in the city, making it hostile to newcomers. When Michael meets the famous artist Doppelman, his life takes on a different angle, as Doppelman whisks him into the art world, showing him off as an art piece. It is through Doppelman that Michael is reunited with his high school love, Mischa. With these three peculiar characters, Michael navigates life in an increasingly dangerous city and tries to find himself. Lawson has created a bizarre world that incorporates ideological and political problems without ever losing its empathy and feeling for his characters. Beautifully written and finely wrought, this novel is a surreal coming-of-age story that considers the boundaries between art and life. (May)