Review of Something New Under the Sun by Alexandra Kleeman

Wow. A stunning book.

An immaculately, intricately, eccentrically written, idiosyncratic soft-s-f, near-future, light-dystopian, quirky pseudo-mystery novel describing the ennui, outrage, absurdity, and maturity of an old-before-her-time child star, with all the camp of kid detective sitcoms and an oceanic undercurrent of eco-unrest. Elegant simplicity. Word-by-word delight. Sentence-by-sentence wonder, awe, and ecstatic enjoyment. A continually beguiling and endearing work of heart-fondling irrealism. My superlatives will begin to sound laxative, but I can’t exude enough enthusiasm. When I inevitably buy and read her other books, I’ll still remember this one clearly, and possibly reread it. It crystallizes in my mind, as I rehash eerie scenes of washed-out vaporwave off-color, watery Californian landscapes, unfolding in warehouses and film sets and virtual forums where conspiracy theorists with clickey keyboards dissect every pixel of our heroine’s filmography and implied psychic landscape. Paparazzi, media corruption, and intimate disinterest infuse the vibrant setting. Told through long dialogue-heavy scenes offering wry wit, surprising character details and moments of existential dread. Sprinkles of philosophic quandaries and poetic fancy. The interior monologues are magnificent, often reminding me of Bae Suah. A. K. will join the list of my favorite, on-the-rise writers, along with Elizabeth Tan. Other comps: Scarlett Thomas, Joy Williams, Dan Chaon and Lucia Berlin, or the countless films and shows describing suburban weirdness, tending toward a noticeable decline into post-apocalyptic predictions that are too on-the-nose.

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