A year in the life of a woman grieving for her stepfather.
The narrator of this beautiful book is a 27-year-old woman named April, a curatorial assistant in California. The story starts in the spring, in the days after April’s beloved stepfather, Wilson, has died. This is the second of her fathers to have died: The first killed himself when she was 16. In the months of April’s mourning, she floats along, almost dissociative. She has short relationships with unsuitable men: Crash Man, who would always fall asleep while driving; Leaf Man, who grows marijuana plants in his spare bedroom closet; Math Man, who is a foot and a half taller than she is; Critic Man, who hates the layout of her apartment. Finally, in the fall, April falls for her best friend’s husband’s cousin, Victor, who himself suffers from depression—“the serious kind”—and her life begins to take shape once more. Vogel (At the Border of Wilshire & Nobody, 2015) captures with acute accuracy the drifting sadness that lingers in the months after the death of a loved one—the way little moments serve as reminders and how every task feels just a little bit more difficult. The novella is broken up by season and then into brief chapters, as if to mirror the disjointed, distracted experience of trying to live after the people you love are dead. The prose is stunning: never overwrought for so intense a subject, flowing yet specific, quiet and lovely. In reference to the lists April makes to keep her life on track, she writes: “Life doesn’t rest, though. It’s always slipping into the future, right when I was all caught up. It’s always bringing me back into the thick of it, and I don’t want to be in the thick of it. I want everything done.”
A moving and graceful novella of overcoming sorrow.