Imagine Me Gone-A Review

Finally, a book review! I wish I were still reading Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett. The book was so rich in the different ways in which it engaged the reader that I’m measuring its effects on me afterwards. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the book at first. In the beginning chapters, the novel deals with the father and his story. But then the burden shifts to the children, in particular the eldest son, and the darkly comedic life of the book truly begins. The riffs on music-disco, house, synth, dub, and techno-are a constant refrain running throughout and worthy of special mention. The novel is worth reading just for them, but the manner in which they are made an integral part of the book is remarkable. Even if the book doesn’t inspire you to put on a soundtrack while reading it as it did me, you’ll read with music in your ears. And this is one of the best portrayals of someone with a mental illness I’ve come across lately in fiction, precisely because it’s NOT written as a description of someone living with a mental illness. Michael is shown living his life in all its complexity, not as a patient with a diagnosis. True, he does deal with anxiety, and I’m not going to spoil the novel by giving many details here, but this is a novel about a life, not an illness. Race and class privilege are prevailing topics for Michael, and homosexuality is an issue that both he and a sibling deal with. This is not an easy read, as it sometimes gets pedagogical, and the issues that the characters grapple with are  fundamental and stark. But it IS most rewarding and will leave you enlightened, more learned, and with a new playlist!


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