Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Changeling by Victor Lavalle

When he was four years old, Apollo West’s father vanished without a trace. Shortly after, Apollo began having a terrifying and recurrent nightmare. The dream never varied until, on an evening in his junior year of high school, a cardboard box labeled Improbabilia turned up on his doorstep. Inside were keepsakes, obviously collected by his father, Brian. Among these treasures was Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, Outside Over There, a tenuous link to a father he barely remembers. From that moment onward, Apollo devours every word he can lay hands on; magazines, books, the backs of cereal boxes, etc.   Starting in high school, reselling the waiting room cast-offs brought home from his mom’s office, he is able to parlay his new passion into a career as a “book man.” Nearly a decade later, on the heels of a fortuitous find, he meets Emma, an adventurous librarian.  The two marry and are soon happily expecting their first child.  Despite a headline-making delivery, the little family seems to be settling in well. Apollo, determined to be the father he always wished for, is over the moon with little infant Brian. However, things may not be as they appear.  Emma seems to change shortly after returning to work. Drawn and haggard she begins acting strangely.  She never seems to call Brian by name, incensing Apollo by referring to baby Brian as “it.” Over the next few months she enlists the help of an online community of “wise ones,” whose advice will dramatically alter their family’s life forever. What follows is an Odyssean journey that spans centuries and oceans without ever leaving New York.  

Jennifer Wilson

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