cover image The Miranda

The Miranda

Geoff Nicholson. Unnamed (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (218p) ISBN 978-1-944700-36-2

The reader meets Joe Johnson, the articulate narrator of Nicholson’s sharp and thought-provoking novel, at a crossroads in his life. He has recently quit his job, working on unspecified projects involving torture for a bureaucratic group known as the Team. He and wife Carole have divorced, and he’s moved into a new house. The novel ignores conventional plot in favor of episodic encounters that trigger cultural, literary, and historical references and observations. For example, Joe’s current life plan is an epic walk, inspired by the prison peregrinations of Albert Speer—not as a role model, since he was a Nazi, but as a “fellow traveler.” As Speer was limited by his incarceration, Joe will confine himself to a circuit in his back yard. Recording his progress will be a major component of the project, eliciting references to Bruce Chatwin, Rousseau, and others. A flyer on his car leads him to the title character, a Jill-of-all-trades, who becomes his sidekick. The human tendency to violence, the ubiquity of the internet, and the arrogant intrusiveness of the outside world are just some of the themes Nicholson skewers in this sophisticated satire, and indeed the book is at its best during its droll and subtle needling of contemporary American life. (Oct.)