cover image Chaotic Good

Chaotic Good

Lee Klein. Sagging Meniscus, $19.95 trade paper (182p) ISBN 978-1-952386-47-3

Klein explores the complexities of middle age with candor and longing in this indulgent work of autofiction, a companion piece to Neutral Evil))). The action is built around Klein’s attendance at a 2019 concert at Madison Square Garden given by a cultish jam band that seems to be Phish, and structured as a series of vignettes and meditations titled after various phases of the event. In “Sound Check,” Klein catalogs significant moments that occurred on the date, December 28, both personal and historical, ranging from Herod’s order to kill Jesus to a present-day truck bombing in Somalia. Most of the material is personal; Klein is at a crossroads, considering the meaning and mortality of his life after his father’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis. In “First Set,” he looks back on the 20 years since he graduated from college. It’s a mundane series of memories mixed with scenes of domestic joy and strife: scrubbing his kitchen floor, going to the doctor, tending to his six-year-old daughter, Kali, and struggling with marital issues. While some might be put off by Klein’s self-important musings, there’s an appeal to his shaggy approach. Readers with the patience for Phish might be into this. (July)