The 100 Must-Read Books of 2021
November 29, 2021 8:15 AM EST

Alexandra Kleeman’s latest surreal novel is a kaleidoscope of human catastrophe: Almost-middle-aged writer Patrick Hamlin is in L.A. for the film adaptation of his book, but the Hollywood machine has turned it into something barely recognizable. The city is burning, and water has been replaced with WAT-R, a corporate lab-made substitute that comes in different flavors. Patrick’s wife Alison’s fear of the ongoing climate crisis has left room for nothing else in her mind, and she’s taken their daughter, Nora, to an upstate retreat that borders on cult. The lead in Patrick’s doomed film is a former teen star who’s been chewed up by the tabloid industry. These are crises rooted in a culture of unchecked greed and exploitation, and Kleeman zooms in to highlight the absurdity and tragedy of living through it.

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