Favorite Books of the 2010s: The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge

This is a series of reviews of my favorite books published between 2010 and 2019.


The Night Ocean by Paul La Farge (2017)

When Marina’s husband, Charles, checks out of the mental hospital after having a breakdown and disappears with only his clothes left behind at the shore of a lake, she retraces his footsteps in the hopes he might still be alive. Charles had recently published a successful book about H. P. Lovecraft and Robert Barlow, which was later exposed as based on a hoax.

This book really hit all of my buttons. It’s about writers and writing and books, and so many American genre writers of the early twentieth century and their associates turn up as characters that it’s like being at the most fascinating cocktail party. (William S. Burroughs was my favorite of them, absolutely.) There are stories nested within stories within stories, and no narrator can be trusted. In the end, fact and fiction become inextricably blurred, but this is largely the point. I loved it.

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