Today, I'm doing things a little bit differently. Today, it's all about Emily St. John Mandel. I'm featuring her today because she's here. In the same town as me. And I'm going to see her this evening. <That sounds like we're going to dinner or something. We aren't. She's giving a talk on her bestselling book, Station Eleven, and I happen to have tickets. And you can, too! It's a free event at Stubblefield. So, let's talk about her books, shall we?
Last Night in Montreal
I'm in a book club and this was my pick for February, which was perfect since it was cold. This is a cold weather read. I mean, it's set in Montreal, so bitterly cold is best, but Arkansas cold was just fine. If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be somnambulant; a word I learned while reading this book and also a word that's so dope Wix doesn't recognize it as a word. It means characteristic of a sleepwalker or sluggish. So, me before ten in the morning. It's also the perfect word to describe this book; everyone is just going through the motions.
Last Night in Montreal tells the story of Lilia. When she was seven-years-old, her father kidnapped her from her mother's home. He brought her to the United States and they've stayed on the run for most of her life and it becomes ingrained in her. She's a runner. When things get serious, she bolts. So, when she leaves her Brooklyn apartment to get the morning paper and never returns, her boyfriend sets out on a journey to find her, leading him to where it all began, Montreal. With cast of supporting characters that are both tragic and bizarre, this book will leave you with questions. Six members of my book club read it, and we came up with six different interpretations of the ending. It's beautifully written, as all her books are, and there's an underlying circus theme that I did not see coming. And, if you're a Lynx & LeRoux fan, you know how much I love a circus theme.
This is a dystopian novel unlike any dystopian novel I've ever read. A pandemic flu has taken out most of civilization. Twenty years later, a troupe of actors travel around performing Shakespeare for those who remain. I am obsessed with the idea that, even in the apocalypse, there will be Shakespeare. Because it's dystopian novel, there is, of course, a fanatic who threatens the livelihood of Kirsten and her acting troupe. As with Last Night in Montreal, Station Eleven jumps back and forth between the past and the present, weaving them in and out and connecting it all in the end. Just come hear her talk about it! Seriously. This book is stunning.
If you're looking for a fun, quick, linear read, neither of these books are for you. But they are literary fiction at its finest and I'm so, so excited about tonight. Here's the link for event info; I'll see you there, friends.