Sunday, July 25, 2010
Book Review: "The Nobodies Album" by Carolyn Parkhurst
What a fantastically affecting, thought-provoking book. The Nobodies Album tells the story of Octavia Frost, an author of relative renown, who has just written her latest book, which is a collection of rewritten endings of all of her other books. As she readies to turn the manuscript into her editor, she finds out that her estranged son, Milo, a rock star, has been accused of brutally murdering his girlfriend, Bettina.
Octavia struggles with trying to rebuild a relationship with her son, despite all of the baggage both of them carry, having not spoken in more than four years. Interspersed with Octavia and Milo's story are the original concluding chapters of all of Octavia's novels as well as her planned rewrites of each. And as you get to know more about her life and her relationship with Milo, reading excerpts of each book becomes a more fascinating meditation on whether art truly does imitate life.
Carolyn Parkhurst is a terrific author. Her first book, The Dogs of Babel, is one of the most memorable books I've ever read, and this book proves she hasn't lost her touch. Octavia and Milo are fascinating, multi-layered characters, imbued with all of the foibles of real people struggling with life. There were several times I worried this book was veering into amateur detective territory or some other cliche, but happily, Parkhurst didn't steer me wrong. This is a beautifully written book which takes you on an emotional and intellectual journey, and I highly recommend it.