cover image These Dreams of You

These Dreams of You

Steve Erickson. Europa, $15 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-60945-063-2

Erickson (Zeroville) follows middle-aged Caucasian Alexander “Zan” Nordhoc’s adoption of a four year-old Ethiopian girl, beginning on the eve of Barack Obama’s election and leaping back 50 years and forward to a newly cross-cultural world. Daughter Sheba’s arrival coincides with Zan’s family’s personal recession (soon joined by the nation’s). A former professor of pop culture and former novelist, Zan broadcasts underground blues radio from his home in L.A. while his wife, Viv, searches in vain for photography work. “The little girl who talks like she’s twenty” brings issues of race and identity to the center of this family. In danger of losing their house, they are soon dealing with charges of human trafficking and illegal adoption. While Zan ferries Sheba to London for a rare paying lecture gig, Viv goes to Addis Ababa to try to sort out the adoption. But when Viv and Sheba both disappear, Zan is forced to examine his youthful mistakes and misconceptions and confront his dissonant reality. Told in a series of short, punchy sections, Erickson expertly weaves together themes of music, politics, and idealism in a modern story where preconceptions are outdated. Agent: The Melanie Jackson Agency. (Feb.)