Sad as that may sound, my interests are warranted, because finding good stories about how it all will end is worthwhile. The Road set the bar impossibly high when it comes to post apocalyptic visions of the future, a story that leaves a mark on you like a gruesome tattoo. After reading Ms. The country will collapse, water will run out, or gas, something elemental that is blended deep in our fibers, and the strong will survive before the world resets. At first Ms. Lepucki creates a Garden of Eden and it seems like the last couple will be the first family.

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Share via Email Tortured landscape … a storm above US prairie land. The nearness of this era helps make her vision both more discomfiting and more credible. Lepucki uses this backdrop to explore how a typical marriage might survive a society that has turned into rather a dog-eat-dog affair. The wealthy have formed their own corporate-sponsored Communities, whereas others are living in primitive outposts, fearing bands of Pirates.

Young marrieds Cal and Frida live lost in the middle of these unmapped territories. Pregnancy soon follows a lot of listless lovemaking, and Frida is consumed with a biological instinct to find a Community. She wants, quite simply, friends. She persuades Cal to leave their outpost in search of other people. He is unreasonably antagonistic toward his hosts, but we believe in his jealous love.

Both characters make moral compromises that would have been unthinkable previously. At times these gestures seem founded in their allegorical fall; at other times they are jarring narrative disconnections.

Cal and Frida begin to fear they will be kicked out of the Land once their secret pregnancy is revealed. Whereas the first half of California supplies evocative scenes and sentences, such as a haunting moment of confrontation with a starving coyote, attention to the visceral quality of life in this particular future diminishes as the book becomes concerned with ins and outs of a wider conspiracy and authorially dangled secrets.

Flashes of genuine narrative tension that pull the reader forward by the shirtfront are interrupted by moments of retrospection or unhurried conversation that seem unlikely or disappointingly timed. Still, a strong whiff of Nineteen Eighty-Four in the final section lends the novel a powerful and creepy finish. One of the sheltered Communities in California is named after its corporate sponsor, Amazon.


'California,' by Edan Lepucki

This approach may seem too optimistic given dire news about melting icecaps and acidic oceans, but it does allow for a reading of the novel as satire, skewering the elements of modern life that have brought us to this tipping point. After fleeing Los Angeles, Frida and Cal have lived in the wilderness for two years, squatting in a house owned by a family that, for unknown reasons, committed suicide. Later, Cal has a fit when Frida bakes bread for other people. When the book opens, Frida is trying to figure out how to tell Cal she may be expecting a baby, and it is this basic imperative — the promise of new life in a collapsing world — that persuades the couple to quit their isolated home in search of other people. If the comment seems insensitive — or, O. In one scene, he waits patiently in his horse-drawn carriage as Frida unloads the whole back story about Micah and, high on Vicodin, considers revealing her pregnancy.


California by Edan Lepucki

For a smart writer, a ravaged future world also offers something like a perfect literary playground, a cleared field where everything from language to human psychology to social convention can be reconsidered and reframed, critiqued or reimagined. Barry seems especially well suited to the undertaking. She is thus both of Vietnam and not, and traveling there as she has done a number of times could be a matter of finding a life that might have been, looking for a haunted past and listening to its ghosts, much as her fey character Rabbit does. And when she came out of her coma, she could hear the voices of the dead.


California review – Edan Lepucki's hit story of marriage after the apocalypse

It publishes with Little, Brown next week, an imprint under the Hachette umbrella, and thus was swept up in the most recent Amazon ruckus. The story opens with Cal and Frida, a couple that has chosen to flee Los Angeles, one of many American cities that has fallen to shambles due to a sudden oil crisis and a slew of global warming-related natural disasters. The rest of the country either lives in squalor in drug-addled former cities, or off the grid, as Cal and Frida have opted to do. After graduation, Micah, always a prankster, joins a performance art group that aims to protest the Communities and other capitalistic endeavors.

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