One of the most exciting American novelists writing today.
The Lost Scrapbook
The Lost Scrapbook is a story of the shattering of community in modern America — and a vision of reconstitution. The novel brings together stories of people who, unbeknownst to one another, are all somehow involved in a search for precisely the same thing. And as the characters tell their tales — like musical variations on such themes as apartness and belonging, unity and diversity — we learn about the object of their quest: a mysterious scrapbook.
The novel’s culmination is a true tour-de-force, recounting a confrontation between a trusting city and the local manufacturing company that both sustains and betrays it. Exploring the interface between ecology and social justice, The Lost Scrapbook is broadly inclusive and fabulously inventive — biodiversity made into fiction. It is a triumph of ecological storytelling.
This first novel resembles the ambitious debuts of Joseph McElroy (A Smuggler’s Bible) and Thomas Pynchon (V.), but author Evan Dara pushes the bar back upward toward the height of William Gaddis’ The Recognitions … It takes some work to look back at The Lost Scrapbook and say, “Aha, so that’s how all those parts fit together,” and then “Aaah,” which signifies satisfaction or, with a different spelling, awe.
Powerful … wonderfully entertaining … [The Lost Scrapbook] is that rarity among the first novels, a text that is both rich and accomplished, one where innovation, complexity, significant issues, and artistic control are all in abundant evidence.
Monumental, cunning, heartfelt and unforgiving … Dara shows how a novel can be experimental, yet moral, rule breaking but emotional, and post-humanist while remaining deeply human. A vast accomplishment.
Evan Dara’s magnificent novel … [is crafted] as if James Joyce had widened the narrative ear of Ulysses … If this really is Mr. Dara’s first novel, he is either a young phenom or a well-practiced, reclusive treasure.