Thursday, April 14, 2016

Where Futures End

I think Parker Peevyhouse, in addition to being an incredibly talented young writer, might have the best author name ever.  You can argue the point with me, but I'm going to need citations if you try to claim there's something better out there, and I don't believe you can provide it.

And then there's the book.  Where Futures End is a set of five connected stories; the first one takes place in the present, the next one ten years from now, then thirty, then sixty, and finally a hundred years in the future.  Interconnected stories is something I usually either love or hate; short stories are not usually my favorite, but when the connections are tight and a strong overall narrative is formed, my book nerd heart goes pitter patter.  This is why David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is one of my favorite book; when it's done right, this is a format that has so much going for it.

And this is very, very right.  In the first story, a boy named Dylan doesn't seem to fit into his life, and wants to return to the Other Place, a magical country that he used to be able to cross over to when he was small.  Ten years later, a girl named Brixney struggles to pay off her family's debt with a fast food job by making a live feed of her life as interesting as possible--and meets someone who knew Dylan. In the next story, Brixney's life is pop culture history, and Epony's family is forced from their farm as droughts and floods--and other things--change the face of the world.

And so on, each about a young person in an unfriendly and unforgiving world, trying to find a magic way out.  And there is magic here, but it's not harmless.  The idea that there's another world you can go to--like Narnia--and that everything is better there and you can leave your problems behind is so familiar, so tempting, and so impossible; even if there was such a world, it would not be problem free.  (Do you know how to get to Solla Sollew, on the banks of the beautiful river Wahoo, where they never have troubles--at least very few?)  Even when things work out for our characters, there are no easy answers to the problems they're facing--just lucky breaks.

There is a line in Epony's story, "When We Went High Concept," in which her boyfriend Cole talks about their situation: their farmland flooded as the government tries to save the cities, their families without any selling points to make them worth a corporate relocation.  "They set the price, and we pay it."  This happens over and over again--we live in the world as it exists, in a complicated society and economy that doesn't care about the individual.  Is it any wonder that traveling to a beautiful land of magic and wonder seems so appealing?

There is so much going on here--ideas of privacy, of media, of economics and loyalty and the environment--but each story is driven by its own characters, and the things those characters desperately want and need.  Each one is irresistable, and then by the end, you see the trajectory that is mapped, the consequences of all the small choices that were made by everyone in the world.  It's gorgeous, and heartbreaking, and thrilling. 

I'm excited about this book.  Welcome to my eternal wishlist, Parker Peevyhouse!

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