The future future

Adam Thirlwell, 1978-

Book - 2023

"A madcap story of female friendship, language, and power, from France to colonial America to the moon, from 1775 to this very moment, Adam Thirlwell's The Future Future is a historical novel like no other"--

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Historical fiction
Humorous fiction
New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2023.
Main Author
Adam Thirlwell, 1978- (author)
First American edition
Physical Description
pages cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Her privileged existence shaken up by pornographic pamphlets about her, a woman looks for meaning in a time of radical change. Coyly partial names (Antoinette, Beaumarchais, Louverture) and the general course of events indicate that Celine struggles to face down her slanderers in the years leading up to the French Revolution, falls afoul of the new government during the Reign of Terror, then wanders off to the Americas, where George Washington oppresses Native Americans, and French revolutionaries fail to live up to their ideals when faced with a slave revolt in Hispaniola. At the same time, Celine and her friends message each other and use anachronistic words like fascist. "Centuries and centuries go by, but everything happens in the present moment," is apparently Thirlwell's point, insofar as his all-over-the-map narrative can be said to have a point. An interlude among the Mohawks and a bizarre trip to the moon ("the calendar on the wall in the kitchen was saying that the year was now 2251") suggest that Celine's quest involves a desire to live in greater harmony with the natural world, and she muses about women's lack of power and agency throughout. The uses and nature of language is another thematic undercurrent; Thirlwell definitely isn't short on ideas. But his tone is so abstract that it's difficult to engage with those ideas or the people voicing them. A comment by Celine's daughter, Saratoga, on writers' limited notions about the future is characteristically opaque: "The true future wasn't what was about to happen in a month or even a year but the future future, said Saratoga: alien and incommunicable." Celine's relationships with the numerous secondary characters milling around her are equally hard to parse. The enigmatic ending is likely to frustrate anyone who hasn't already been frustrated by a text that seems to go out of its way to be disorienting and alienating. Some interesting ideas in search of a coherent fictional framework. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.