An 18-year-old boy’s conflicted coming-of-age is dramatized with quiet intensity in this suggestive, fascinating latest from the British author of the critically praised Catastrophe Practice sequence. Mosley’s unnamed protagonist, who’s born with a soft, fragile skull (ostensibly the consequence of his pregnant mother’s proximity to a bombing scene), spends a summer on the coast of Ireland, where he falls in love and also into unspecified political intrigue—thus initiating further travels, a chain of revelations that prove his parents not the people he believes them to be (among other disillusionments), and a climactic vision of the mythical Garden of the Hesperides, the reputed site of the biblical Tree of Life. Like Mosley’s Whitbread Award–winning Hopeful Monsters (1991,etc.), this is a boldly imagined, intellectually challenging exploration of the moral and social (and, more specifically, genetic) fallout of the past century’s “experiments” and excesses—and of the individual’s resistance to absorbing its lessons and bearing its scars.
Not an easy read, but not to be missed.