We carry memories with us, and memories that don’t necessarily belong to us. We carry cultural memories, the imposed memories of science and theology. We carry our heartache’s memories. We carry our loneliness and our despair and our hope for a better, brighter future.
Consider the memories of horseshoe crabs. They have lived and thrived since before the dinosaurs stomped upon their lonely beaches, and continue on, drained of blood by pharmaceutical companies that use their blood for serum. What strange dreams haunt their memories and societies?
In Ekaterina Sedia’s latest novel, House of Discarded Dreams, Vimbai is adrift in life, caught between the African culture of her immigrant parents in Boston, and the strange, bright, loud America. She doesn’t fit in. She doesn’t have close friends. She lives at home and studies biology at the University where her mother teaches. Growing tired of her family’s constant pressure to conform to an African and an American ideal, both at the same time and contradictory, she decides to move out. She locates a house that should probably be condemned, where strange creatures live under the porch, and a young man named Felix has a black hole where other people would have a head of hair. She is drawn to this house, bound up in it like the other residents here, who are also adrift. The house accumulates people’s lost hopes and dreams, and the people who carry too many of them.
Soon, the house takes to the sea. The ghost of Vimbai’s African grandmother is doing the dishes in the kitchen. Felix catches a psychic energy baby by sticking the phone (where a psychic energy baby is hiding) into the pocket universe upon his head. The only way anyone is going to get home is to trust int he horseshoe crabs, who promise to carry Vimbai home, as long as she promises, as in any good fairy tale, not to peer under the water where the horseshoe crabs pull at ropes cast into the water.
Ekaterina Sedia’s House of Discarded Dreams is a beautiful book. It is probably an important book. I hope more people find out about it.