August 6, 1945: the day Enola Gay unleashed an atomic inferno over Hiroshima. In the wake of its devastation, two stories unfold. There’s Jim, an American soldier who was entrusted with taking care of Yoro, a Japanese girl who then disappears after the atomic bomb falls. And there’s H, a Japanese child who is at school when the bomb drops and is indelibly marked by its destruction. Both victims of the bomb, H and Jim meet for the first time in New York years later—their paths cross by chance, they fall in love, and together they continue Jim’s search for Yoro. A quixotic twenty-first century quest to discover what makes us human, from refugee camps to the slave mines of Africa, from Brazil to Borneo, Japan to Mexico, it’s also a journey that plumbs the depths and heights of cruelty and compassion, vulnerability and violence.
Marina Perezagua’s urgent, incantatory, and highly original novel moves us beyond our understanding of history as broad and sweeping to the individual stories of those who feel joy and pain, who suffer and transcend. Both dazzling and dark, The Story of H pulsates with a terrible beauty and power that lingers with the reader long after the last page.
In this stirring and insightful novel, T.C. Boyle takes us back to the 1960s and to the early days of a drug whose effects have reverberated widely throughout our culture: LSD.
In 1943, LSD is synthesized in Basel. Two decades later, a coterie of grad students at Harvard are gradually drawn into the inner circle of renowned psychologist and psychedelic drug enthusiast Timothy Leary. Fitzhugh Loney, a psychology Ph.D. student and his wife, Joanie, become entranced by the drug’s possibilities such that their “research” becomes less a matter of clinical trials and academic papers and instead turns into a free-wheeling exploration of mind expansion, group dynamics, and communal living. With his trademark humor and pathos, Boyle moves us through the Loneys’ initiation at one of Leary’s parties to his notorious summer seminars in Zihuatanejo until the Loneys’ eventual expulsion from Harvard and their introduction to a communal arrangement of thirty devotees—students, wives, and children—living together in a sixty-four room mansion and devoting themselves to all kinds of experimentation and questioning.
Is LSD a belief system? Does it allow you to see God? Can the Loneys’ marriage—or any marriage, for that matter—survive the chaotic and sometimes orgiastic use of psychedelic drugs? Wry, witty, and wise, Outside Looking In is an ideal subject for this American master, and highlights Boyle’s acrobatic prose, detailed plots, and big ideas. It’s an utterly engaging and occasionally trippy look at the nature of reality, identity, and consciousness, as well as our seemingly infinite capacities for creativity, re-invention, and self-discovery.