Exalted

Anna Dorn. Unnamed Press, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-1-951213-48-0

Dorn (Vagablonde) returns with a hilarious and surprising chronicle of astrology packed with sharp cultural commentary. Dawn, a recently dumped Leo with a drinking problem and a penchant for arson, alternates between quoting her court-appointed therapist and astrology memes from @Exalted, her favorite Instagram account. The page is run by Emily, a Scorpio and failed actor who spends her afternoons at a burlesque club and tries to do enough online chart readings to scrape together the rent. When Emily receives a request for a reading from a man named Beau Rubidoux, she is shocked to find that his astrological placements are “exalted,” astrology-speak for ideal. Despite the fact that Emily believes astrology is a “scam” yet still “divine” (blame it on her Gemini moon—“so ideologically chaotic”), she becomes convinced Beau is the love of her life. Meanwhile, Dawn drinks too much, overstays her welcome at various gay bars and friends’ houses, and keeps tabs on @Exalted. Told from the alternating perspectives of Dawn and Emily, this salacious trip barrels through Southern California as the two women’s startling connection is finally revealed. The narrative conveys a deep knowledge of astrology, which the characters skewer with sharp-witted observations (“Freud,” Emily claims, “is just Astrology for men”). Compulsively readable, this consistently shocks and delights. Agent: Sarah Phair, Sanford J. Greenburger Assoc. (June)