"This fascinating study of human behavior wraps around a cleverly written murder mystery where the identity of both victim and murderer are held in secret until the last possible moment. Degnore subtly peels back narrative layers to bring Pearl’s deepest fears and desires to the surface."– Kirkus Reviews
In Degnore’s (Stuck Up, 2012, etc.) sci-fi novel, 33-year-old Evet is accused of murdering her beloved cat and a little girl who may be her daughter.
In a world where computer-simulated experiences called Sims are uploaded directly into one’s brain, people commonly live out their dark fantasies and forbidden urges. However, even the most banal real-world experiences are considered taboo, and murder is unheard of. After Evet is accused of such a violent crime, her friends suggest that perhaps she committed murder by mistake, confusing reality for a Sim. However, Evet is a Sim designer herself, so she’s among the few people in her society who are permitted to engage in real-world experiences. Therefore, she understands the distinction better than most—and she knows she didn’t commit the crime. However, she still grieves over the loss of her cat (who, oddly enough, was also her lover), and over the loss of a daughter she doesn’t remember having—and those memories meld into one. When law enforcement officers detain Evet and torture her by controlling her thoughts, her grip on reality further slips. The lines between individual and collective memory become blurred as she falls in and out of a series of dreams that take her to different points in history. The novel pushes even the most open-minded readers’ boundaries early on, as it opens with a shocking description of a sexual encounter between a woman and a cat. However, in this story, animals also serve as a reminder of how humanity has been lost, absorbed into simulated realities. The author forces readers to suspend their expectations about appropriate relationships and challenges them to abandon comfortably held notions of the nature of reality. This isn’t a casual read and may leave some readers behind, but it has a jarring elegance that may leave a profound impression on those willing to open themselves up to it.
A cerebral work of feminist cyberpunk literature that challenges modern concepts of gender, literacy, privacy, humanity and reality.
A young woman from a strict, religious family and trapped in an equally oppressive marriage struggles to break free in the midst of the Great Depression.
The year is 1932 and Pearl Tild is on her way from Tucson to Los Angeles. Traveling by train with her companion, Gordon McAndless, something feels wrong. Upon arriving in LA, the cause of Pearl’s unease is revealed: a dismembered corpse is found packed into her steamer trunk. From here, Degnore returns to the beginning to trace the story of Pearl, a unique woman who has an unusual perspective of the world, and the events that led to the discovery of her macabre cargo. Pearl is a wonderfully complex character weighed down by the emotional baggage of growing up in her dysfunctional, rigidly religious family. Her emotional state is revealed as much by the peculiar cadence of her speech and the idiosyncrasies of her behavior as by the historical details Degnore provides in small bits and pieces. This fascinating study of human behavior wraps around a cleverly written murder mystery where the identity of both victim and murderer are held in secret until the last possible moment. Degnore subtly peels back narrative layers to bring Pearl’s deepest fears and desires to the surface. At times this careful dissection takes a little too long, which creates a few slow spots; but the large-scale effect is too compelling to resist. Through Pearl’s eyes, her husband, friends and family are also revealed to be full of flaws and human frailty. But, as Degnore gently yet adamantly insists, don’t be too quick to judge—chances are, what you thought was certain is uncertain.
A thoughtful, engrossing story of a young woman desperately fighting to find her own voice even as family, friends and society try to keep her silent.