From National Book Award finalist Christopher Sorrentino, a bracing, kaleidoscopic look at love and obsession, loyalty and betrayal, race and identity, compulsion and free will…
Sandy Mulligan is in trouble. To escape his turbulent private life and the scandal that’s maimed his public reputation, he’s retreated from Brooklyn to the quiet Michigan town where he hopes to finish his long-overdue novel. There, he becomes fascinated by John Salteau, a native Ojibway storyteller who regularly appears at the local library.
But Salteau is not what he appears to be — a fact suspected by Kat Danhoff, an ambitious Chicago reporter of elusive ethnic origins who arrives to investigate a theft from a nearby Indian-run casino. Salteau’s possible role in the crime could be the key to the biggest story of her stalled career. Bored, emotionally careless, and sexually reckless, Kat’s sudden appearance in town immediately attracts a restive Sandy.
As the novel weaves among these characters uncovering the conflicts and contradictions between their stories, we learn that all three are fugitives of one kind or another, harboring secrets that threaten to overturn their invented lives and the stories they tell to spin them into being. In their growing involvement, each becomes a pawn in the others’ games — all of them just one mistake from losing everything.
The signature Sorrentino touches that captivated readers of Trance are all here: sparkling dialogue, narrative urgency, mordant wit, and inventive, crystalline prose — but it is the deeply imagined interior lives of its characters that set this novel apart. Moving, funny, tense, and mysterious, is at once a love story, a ghost story, and a crime thriller. It is also a cautionary tale of twenty-first century American life — a meditation on the meaning of identity, on the role storytelling plays in our understanding of ourselves and each other, and on the difficulty of making genuine connections in a world that’s connected in almost every way.
Exuberantly satirical, darkly enigmatic, and completely unforgettable, is an event that reaffirms Sorrentino’s position as an American writer of the first rank.
1974: A tiny band of self-styled urban guerrillas, calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army, abducts a newspaper heiress, who then abruptly announces that she has adopted the guerrilla name "Tania" and chosen to remain with her former captors. Has she been brainwashed? Coerced? Could she be sincere? Why would such a nice girl disavow her loving parents, her adoring fiance, her comfortable home? Why would she suddenly adopt the SLA's cri de coeur, "Death to the Fascist Insect that Preys Upon the Life of the People"? Soon most of the SLA are dead, killed in a suicidal confrontation with police in Los Angeles, forcing Tania and her two remaining comrades-the pompous and abusive General Teko and his duplicitous lieutenant, Yolanda-into hiding, where they will remain for the next sixteen months.
"Trance," Christopher Sorrentino's mesmerizing and brilliant second novel, traces this fugitive period, leading the reader on a breathtaking, hilarious, and heartbreaking underground tour across a beleaguered America, in the company of scam artists, visionaries, cultists, and a mismatched gang of middle-class people who typify the guiding conceit of their time, that of self-renovation. Along the way he tells the story of a nation divided against itself-parents and children, men and women, black and white; a story of hidebound tradition and radical change, of truth and propaganda, of cynicism and idealism; a story as transfixing and relevant today as it was then.
Insightful, compassionate, scathingly funny, and moving, "Trance" is a virtuoso performance, placing Christopher Sorrentino in the first rank of American novelists.