David Means’ short story collection, Assorted Fire Events, was full of dark and dystopian stories. These two adjectives would also apply to his latest novel, Hystopia (Farrar, Straus and Giroux $26). It is 1970. John F. Kennedy has lived through several assassination attempts and is still President. Veterans of the Vietnam war are dealing with their PTSD by taking the drug Tripizoid and undergoing a process called Enfolding. Some vets, like Rake, are so incorrigible that they can’t be enfolded, and therein lies the tale. It is a novel within a novel, complete with Editor’s Notes and Author’s Notes that provide a sense of truth and realism to the fictional story. This and other novels pertaining to Vietnam remind us that the psychological damage from war is heartbreaking, and often unmanageable.
Hystopia by David Means (Farrar, Straus and Giroux $26), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.