From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Millet proves no less lyrical, haunting or deliciously absurd in her brilliant sixth novel than in her fifth, the acclaimed Oh Pure & Radiant Heart
. As a boy, T. keeps his distance from others, including his loving but vacant parents, preferring to explore his knack for turning a dollar. Before long, he's a wealthy but lonely young real estate developer in L.A. Just after he adopts, on impulse, a dog from the pound, his mother shows up and announces that T.'s father has left her. His mother, increasingly erratic, moves in; meanwhile, T. finally meets and falls in love with Beth, a nice girl who understands him, but a cruel twist of fate soon leaves him alone again. As his mother continues to unravel, T. finds unexpected consolation in endangered animals at the zoo, and he starts breaking into pens after hours to be closer to them. The jungle quest that results, while redolent of Heart of Darkness
and Don Quixote
, takes readers to a place entirely Millet's own, leavened by very funny asides. At once an involving character study and a stunning meditation on loss—planetary and otherwise—Millet's latest unfolds like a beautiful, disturbing dream. (Jan.)
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Lydia Millet, a social novelist with a masterâs degree in environmental policy, has carved a reputation for herself by exploring difficult topics in edgy, darkly humorous works of fiction. How the Dead Dream
â"part philosophical meditation, part fable, and part comic escapadeâ"argues for the importance of environmental protection as it portrays T.âs metamorphosis from coldhearted capitalist into compassionate child of the Earth. Critics differed in their opinions of T.âs character: is he a finely-wrought, sympathetic protagonist or a one-dimensional cardboard cutout? A few critics also complained about the many side plots that slow the novelâs momentum and blur Milletâs message. However, T.âs internal struggles and quest for redemption stress humankindâs responsibilities and limitations as stewards of the environmentâ"a timely message indeed.Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.