In Love, on the Road and Undead

In Love, on the Road and Undead

I AM HOMELESS IF THIS IS NOT MY HOME , by Lorrie Moore There's a well-known bit of literary , often misattributed to Vladimir Nabokov, that goes like this: The writer's job is to get the main character up a tree, and then, once he's up there, throw rocks at him. This maxim is sound, so far as it goes. But it doesn't say what should happen if the character dies and comes back to life as a tree — or at least a treelike variety of zombie. This is what happens in Lorrie Moore's fluky, fitfully funny and folk-horror-adjacent new novel, “I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home.” The book is set during the run-up to the presidential election in 2016, a year when the world fell out of joint for almost everyone. It certainly did for Finn, a young high school teacher. Finn's brother, Max, is dying in a hospice in the Bronx. Then the love of his life, an ex-girlfriend named Lily, dies by suicide. But lo, somehow, here she is after her burial, undead, with dirt in her mouth and worms wriggling on her neck. Finn is still in love with Lily. Lily is still in love with Finn. This is perfect. They commence a road trip. That is essentially the plot of “I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home,” with an additional twist. Threaded into the are a series of diary entries, written as grieving letters, from the proprietress of a 19th-century boardinghouse. Two deaths are involved here as well. Finn finds these diaries at the house, now a decrepit tourist lodge, and steals them. Ghost story begins to braid with zombie story. Even before her death Lily was said to resemble an apple tree. Beautiful, in Finn's estimation, “until she started throwing her apples at you, hard hurtful pitches, like the trees in ‘The Wizard of Oz.'” If she weren't likened to an apple tree throughout the novel, you might think of Lily as a manic pixie dream ginkgo. One searches for literary precedents. In 's third […]

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