cover image A Little More Human

A Little More Human

Fiona Maazel. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (360p) ISBN 978-1-55597-769-6

Maazel’s (Woke Up Lonely) third novel blends science fiction, satire, farce, literary mystery, and comic book adventure that probes the human heart even as it describes drugs and robotics propelling us into a bionic, posthuman world. During the week, nursing assistant Phil Snyder works at SCET, his family’s Staten Island biotech firm specializing in new and experimental treatments for brain injuries, while weekends he dresses up as popular superhero Brainstorm for toy stores and children’s events. Like Brainstorm, Phil can read minds; unlike Brainstorm, his life is spiraling out of control. Without his knowledge, his wife has become pregnant through a sperm bank. His father, Doc, an SCET cofounder, is rapidly succumbing to dementia. Worst of all, Phil receives four photos in the mail showing him in his Brainstorm costume, stripped to the waist, standing over a battered woman. Unable to remember what happened the night the photos were taken, Phil seeks out the victim, Effie, and embarks on a journey involving an unidentified dead body and a series of unanswered questions. Maazel’s clever, incisive prose makes the roller-coaster plot a fun if exhausting ride. (Apr.)