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THE LOSS OF LEON MEED by Josh Emmons Kirkus Star


by Josh Emmons

Pub Date: July 12th, 2005
ISBN: 0-7432-6718-4
Publisher: Scribner

A mysterious missing man travels through time and space to confront ten oddly linked Californians.

In an imaginative and eminently readable debut, Emmons binds together a roster of strangers in a weirdly likable tale of the supernatural. In the crumbling, foggy outpost of Eureka, Calif.—a place whose original settlers never found what they were looking for—ten modern-day Eurekans keep stumbling across someone they never wanted to find: the supposedly missing Leon Meed. Indeed, why is Leon Meed appearing to Eve Sieber, a lovely if slightly aimless young woman whose boyfriend is just beginning to shoot heroin, or to Elaine Perry, a highly effective fourth-grade teacher on the verge of a divorce, or to Shane Larsen, a very unhappy, sometimes violent Mormon? It’s unclear, but in quick, jaunty vignettes, the narrator (not unlike Leon Meed himself) keeps dropping down into the minds and lives of his tangentially related characters, following them through religious conversions, drug addictions, Wiccan ceremonies and interactions with the enigmatic Meed. Fortunately, the point here is not to solve the mystery of Meed, a reclusive burl sculptor who has suffered a great loss, and who himself may be lost, yet who may still be alive. Instead, the novel seems just to revel in the strange poignancy of inhabiting and moving through the bodies of its characters and in following them as they hope for things, lose them, then hope for new or different things. In a very fanciful way, Emmons lovingly carves very believable people out of the mists of California and displays them amidst the cacophony of their lives. He observes them as they change and don’t change, grow and don’t grow, and as, with or without Leon Meed, they come together and apart.

A sparkling and witty debut.