Death Val­ley

  • Review
August 30, 2022

The most pro­found book yet from the vision­ary author of Milk Fed and The Pisces, a dark­ly fun­ny nov­el about grief that becomes a desert sur­vival story.

In Melis­sa Broder’s astound­ing new nov­el, a woman arrives alone at a Best West­ern seek­ing respite from an empti­ness that plagues her. She has fled to the Cal­i­for­nia high desert to escape a cloud of sor­row — for both her father in the ICU and a hus­band whose ill­ness is wors­en­ing. What the motel pro­vides, how­ev­er, is not peace but a path, thanks to a recep­tion­ist who rec­om­mends a near­by hike.

Out on the sun-scorched trail, the woman encoun­ters a tow­er­ing cac­tus whose size and shape mean it should not exist in Cal­i­for­nia. Yet the cac­tus is there, with a gash through its side that beck­ons like a famil­iar door. So she enters it. What awaits her inside this mys­ti­cal suc­cu­lent sets her on a jour­ney at once des­o­late and rich, hilar­i­ous and poignant.

This is Melis­sa Broder at her most imag­i­na­tive, most uni­ver­sal, and finest. This is Death Val­ley.

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