Girl in Landscape offers a genre-bending, mind-expanding tale of a new frontier. Jonathan Lethem's novel is a science-fiction Western that evokes both the brooding tragedy of John Ford's The Searchers and the sexual precocity of Nabokov's Lolita. Lethem's heroine is 14-year-old Pella Marsh, whose mother dies just as her family flees a post ...Read MoreGirl in Landscape offers a genre-bending, mind-expanding tale of a new frontier. Jonathan Lethem's novel is a science-fiction Western that evokes both the brooding tragedy of John Ford's The Searchers and the sexual precocity of Nabokov's Lolita. Lethem's heroine is 14-year-old Pella Marsh, whose mother dies just as her family flees a post-apocalyptic Brooklyn for the frontier of a recently discovered planet. Hating her ineffectual father, and troubled by a powerful attraction to the virile but dangerous loner who holds sway over the little colony, Pella embarks on a course of discovery that will have tragic and irrevocable consequences - both for the humans in her community, and also for the mysterious and passive indigenous inhabitants, The Archbuilders.Read Less
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Publishers Weekly, 1998-02-09 A surrealistic bildungsroman about a teenage girl unfolds among the ruins and frontier violence of a distant planet in Lethem's latest genre-bending exploration of science, landscape and the metaphysics of love and loss. As the novel opens, Pella Marsh, age 13, sets out from her subterranean home in a post-apocalyptic New York City for a final visit to Coney Island with her two younger brothers and her mother, Caitlinæall sealed in bodysuits to keep out the cancerous sun. Pella's father, Clement, has just been swept out of elective office in New York and has set his sights on the next political frontier: joining the first human settlers on the Planet of the Archbuilders. When Caitlin suddenly succumbs to a brain tumor, Clement whisks the grieving children by space ship to the faraway planet. Once the domain of a super-evolved alien species who used "viruses" to alter their ecosystem before abandoning it, the planet is now a hothouse landscape of ruined towers and refuse inhabited only by skittery, mouselike "household deer" and a few remaining Archbuildersægentle, druidic creatures with furry, tendrilled, exoskeletal bodies and names like "Gelatinous Stand." Clement's mission, to forge a community that embraces the Archbuilders, puts him on a collision course with Ephram Nugent, a xenophobic homesteader who so closely resembles John Ford's John Wayne that one keeps expecting him to call Clement "Pilgrim." Lethem (As She Climbed Across the Table, 1997, etc.) affectingly chronicles Pella's tumultuous journey through puberty and loss and the knockabout society of children thrown together by their homesteading parents. As a result, this lyrical, often far-fetched meditation on the founding myths of the 21st century remains thoroughly rooted in an emotional world much closer to home. Author tour. (Apr.)
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