Tim's Reviews > How the Dead Dream

How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millet
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's review
Jun 21, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: own
Read in June, 2008

Lydia Millet starts this novel out with great humor. The description of T's obsession with money is a great hook. I started to worry a little way into the book that this starting point was going to be overwhelming, that the metaphor would cause the rest of the book to collapse. Millet seems to have no such concern and delves headlong into the narrative. It doesn't take long for those concerns to be put to rest as the characters (especially T.) start to shine. T. turns out to be a very well rounded and well thought out character.
There is a lot to like in this novel but I did find the Beth subplot to be a little underdeveloped. I wanted to see her and T. together more to make her importance seem more real. She just never felt right to me. For the most part the characters are treated well. I love the way T's mother is described, especially in her later solitude. Her obsession with puzzles and the pure joy she feels when she is about to share that love with another is humorous, but also quite touching.
I did feel like the end of the book was dragging a bit. Most of the novel is written with a certain amount of economy, never spending too much time with any given scene. The last bit in the jungle started to wear out its welcome. The insights that T. gains make up for it. There are some wonderful meditations on nature and human institutions in here. I liked the transformation that T. undergoes and his awakening to the plight of soon to be extinct animals. It feels hard won.
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