Monday, April 14, 2008

Girl in Landscape

Jonathan Lethem is probably my favorite modern author. He has an imagination that puts him at the forefront of fantasists (despite not being one himself) that is combined with a skill that is far beyond any other writer of his generation (or the one before it). By reading Girl in Landscape, I have not completed all but his most recent novel, and he has never disappointed.

The novel revolves around Pella Marsh, a girl just entering her teens who has recently immigrated to the Planet of the Archbuilders, after the death of her mother. This is her coming of age story as she has to relearn who she is in the wake of a tragedy, while also relearning the world around her. The journey she makes is remarkably harsh. In fact this is probably the bleakest take on exploration I have seen in a science-fiction novel.

The planet Pella finds herself on is covered by the ruins of an abandoned civilization, and is populated by the fallen remnants of a once great settlement. Lethem uses this setting to great effect, choosing to focus on what happens to those who are abandoned, in this case both Pella and the entire world surrounding her. This is a truly remarkable book, and it paved the way for the even greater ones Lethem went on to write.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Now, I'm pretty sure I actually read Girl in Landscape, but of all of Lethem's novels(I haven't read his latest either), this is the one that I have the least recollection.

That's not necessarily a comment on how I found the novel, but it might be.

Oh, I totally did read this during college; the only faint remembrance I have of it is confusion, but that might have just been carry over from Algorithms.