A Bolt from the Blues
Woke Up Lonely:
by Fiona Maazel
$26.00 List Price
Since its publication in 2008, Fiona Maazel’s first novel, Last Last Chance, has won a small and cultlike following, myself included. I love the book because it is constantly surprising—blackly funny but permeated by great sadness, like the fiction of Barry Hannah or Donald Antrim—besides which every sentence in it shines like gold. The story of an über-rich drug addict and her massively dysfunctional family (they smoke crack, worship Norse gods, release an apocalyptic super-plague), Last Last Chance is a smarter and bleaker book than it gets credit for, but it’s still, at bottom, a comedy: Each reader can decide for herself how much of the dark stuff to take or leave. Woke Up Lonely is another wunderkammer, a deeply felt and wildly original novel that repays the attention it demands, and once read won’t be soon forgotten. There are sharp jokes on every page, luridly bad sex, and a passel of outrageous conceits—a secret wonderland in tunnels beneath Cincinnati, an airplane custom painted with the original cover art for Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, a basement orgy—but unlike in the previous novel, here the darkness is inexorable, and will not be denied.
The first page drops us, in medias res, into the life of Thurlow Dan, the founder of a cultish organization called the Helix. He always meant to bring people together in the fight against the solipsism inherent in latter-day global capitalist culture, but he never expected that his dedication to the cause would cost him his wife and daughter (his serial adultery didn’t help), or that his bizarre program—consisting mostly of