by Lydia Millet
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Pub Date 11 Oct 2022 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2022
The stunning new novel from the author of the National Book Award–finalist A Children’s Bible.
Over twelve novels and two collections Lydia Millet has emerged as a major American novelist, writing vividly about the ties between people and other animals and the crisis of extinction. Her exquisite new novel, the first since A Children’s Bible (“a blistering little classic”—Ron Charles, Washington Post), tells the story of an Arizona man’s relationship with the family next door, whose house has one wall made entirely out of glass. The story delivers attraction and love, friendship and grief. But Millet also evokes the uncanny. Through close observation of human and animal life in the desert, she captures the daunting scale of human society without losing sight of the real difference one person can make in the world. Written with humor and benevolence, Dinosaurs asks big questions. Can a person be good? Can a man be good? Compellingly told, emotionally moving, intellectually rich, Dinosaurs may be Millet’s finest novel yet.
About the Author: Lydia Millet is the author of A Children's Bible, a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times 10 Best Book of 2020, among other works of fiction.
A Note From the Publisher
LibraryReads votes are due by 9/1/22.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 26 members
The book reads as a simple story of a man (Gil) who lives next door to a family with a glass window as the side of their house, so essentially, he views them as one would see fish in a bowl. The characters are well drawn, smart, and the dialogue is snappy. Chapters are named for different birds, which adds another layer of meaning to the tale. Gill's life becomes entangled in ways with his neighbors' which he could not have predicted, possibly to illustrate how, as humans, we are all connected, even when we feel isolated. If you're a fan of Lydia Millet's work, or literary fiction you will most likely appreciate this. Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC!
Writing: 5/5 Plot: 4/5 Characters: 5/5
Deceptively simple, deeply beautiful story about a man who learns to open himself up to the world of human connection. Gorgeous writing detailing nature, thoughts, and a continuum of effort to fight for and take care of other people, but never himself. Takes place in the Phoenix desert, where one neighbor lives in a “castle” overlooking another neighbor whose home is built entirely of glass.
This is the first book I’ve read by Millet, and I’m definitely going to seek out the others to see if they all have this iridescent writing. The story was slow paced (which is not usually my thing) but I couldn’t stop reading. Humor, kindness, friendship, confusion, love, and moments of great poignancy — the book had it all.
Lydia Millet has done it again. I look forward to every book she writes, particularly for her uncanny style and dry humor, and this one is a knock-out.
The story centers around Gil, a recent transplant from New York to Arizona, and the family who live next door. They become friendly and in classic Millet style, the small sometimes awkward moments of life are featured with outsize clarity. As their lives become more intertwined, Gil and Ted and Ardis (the parents next door) deal with the events life will throw: work, dating, death, friendship, parenting and ultimately how to do all these things in a good way. Integrity, goodness, and human desire and behavior, along with the utter ridiculousness that life just is, are all themes. Gil is a fantastic protagonist in his dogged want to be and do good, along with his constant struggle against loneliness and being unsure about how to act and what to do in certain circumstances. Should he intervene with a child be bullied? Is it his place to protect the local birds he finds shot dead near his property? How do you reconcile a 15 year relationship that ended and was only about money in the first place?
Birds, being the descendants of dinosaurs, play a role both in the story line and in the structure of the chapters. Each one is titled after a different bird. I enjoyed the idea of how long birds have been here, their ancestors on this planet, and how little and trifling our problems can be in light of that connection to such a long past. We are of this planet too, connected more than we may realize, and this should give us hope.
Well done, great read.
I was so utterly, utterly charmed by this book. Bittersweet is the perfect word to describe it. A tad melancholy, philosophical, and ambling, a lonely man slowly builds up his family and his place in the world. It is very much a character driven story, and I got so wrapped up in them and their world. Like, Gil treks from Manhattan to Phoenix over the course of 5 months and that's the set up for the novel, not the plot. It's so simple and straight forward, yet so effective and thought-provoking. I caught myself smiling and/or touching my hand to my heart several times. The characters feel so real. And maybe I'm a paranoid reader, but I did spend a portion of this book waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something horrible to happen for the sake of drama because of course that would happen to these kind people. And it would have been very simple for Millet to take it in that direction and fall to tropes and melodrama. But she didn't and the heart of the book is not drama for drama's sake, which is really refreshing. Man, it was just So Good.
I loved Lydia Millet's previous novel, A CHILDREN'S BIBLE, but honestly had no idea what this one was about. This turned out to be the best approach because what seemed like a simple story on the surface, man becomes interested and ingratiates himself into his neighbour's family, became much more,. Millet has written a detailed character study about a man who is real, honest, flawed and very likeable. Rarely do I see myself in male characters but I did here, which is no small feat.
A really lovely novel that I hope gets the attention it deserves.
Thanks to NetGalley, W.W. Norton & Company and Lydia Millet for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Each spare, whittled sentence in this compelling novel delivers a rich reward for the reader. Lydia Millet's masterful, quiet portrait of a man who transplants himself and finds new meaning in his life is--on the surface--quiet and common, but, once started, it's almost impossible to put this novel down. Highly recommended--a haunting and unique work.
My thanks to Norton and to Netgalley for the opportunity and pleasure of an early read.
I wish I could read this again for the first time. This novel is not for thrill seekers, but if you enjoy atmosphere, character development, and satisfying closure then this is your JAM. I loved the way we were privy to the meandering thoughts of the main character and how they all led to reveals that made sense and mostly felt good. I was sad when I came to the end even though I knew it was exactly where and when the ending belonged. Can’t remember the last time I wanted to be part of a book’s ensemble cast. Soothing and hypnotic.
I didn't have any idea what to expect from this book. I was just intrigued by the title, the cover, and then the premise. It gives you the perfect amount of information and leaves the plot and the characters entirely to be discovered.
It had me pleasantly surprised actually! A lot of reviews seem to say that Dinosaurs has an uneventful plot, with very little happening - and it definitely is a quiet book - but I think that Millet managed to seamlessly fit a lot into these pages.
Gil is a lovely character. A man with too much money who moves to a new place and ends up entangled in the lives of the family next door, whilst trying to be as good a person as possible. I really liked following Gil. I read so many books with unlikeable main characters and big dramatic events moving the plot along, and so this was a nice change. This book focuses on 'smaller' problems, the problems that people all over the world probably face every day, and Lydia Millet weaves everything in so nicely.
Gil actually does have some very traumatic experiences in this book, but it's handled very well, and I enjoyed following him as he slowly worked out his life and found more meaning.
I love a good found family story. All of the characters that Gil interacts with have flaws but they fit together so nicely. They are warm and funny and feel quite real. This, combined with beautiful nature writing, really kept my attention. I wanted to speed through and read the entire book, but also to take my time, and try to savour the writing.
I think I'll be thinking back to and considering this book for a while. I'm very interested in the family that lives in a house with an entire wall made of glass, and I would love to go bird-watching with Jason. Gil made me think of one of my favourite characters in literature: Vonnegut's Mr Rosewater. I'm intrigued by this exploration of wealthy characters who want to help by giving all of their money away, and how much of an impact they can make.
I will hopefully be looking into Lydia Millet's backlist in the future because this definitely piqued my interest!
Thank you so much for the review copy.
Millet's newest novel is very much in harmony with her 2019 "A Children's Bible," in that where "A Children's Bible" s a speculative/borderline-allegorical flood narrative with a thrillingly dark sense of humor, Dinosaurs is less flashy, more a meditation on what individual engagement with this endlessly spiraling world can look like. It’s hopeful. It's quiet. No big/massive events, just small dramas that aren’t small to the people living through them (eg, a child being bullied, someone getting over a breakup) as well as larger, distressingly commonplace traumas (eg, life in a shelter for victims of domestic violence, someone hunting birds at night while the birds are sleeping). And, just like real life, all of this taking place while the biggest event of any of our lives—the climate emergency—unfolds!
She is giving a blueprint for what can be possible in everyday lives, especially for those who are “comfortable” enough to not have to worry about things like rent and food.
Gil, the protagonist, is a wealthy, unassuming man who distributes his inherited fortune on a local level, anonymously, alongside the actual 40 hours a week he puts in doing menial volunteer work at various shelters for women or for refugees. Gil doesn’t have to be wealthy to do the small yet meaningful kinds of things that, when added up, make for something like community, something like people caring about their environment and about people other than themselves. He struggles to reconcile the enormity of everything happening with the tiny interventions he makes but he doesn’t give up.
Throughout all this runs a compelling domestic novel, with neighborhood dramas and mysteries. I loved it!
What a lovely book!
Gil is in his mid 40's and incredibly wealthy. He grew up orphaned and received a trust as an adult. This has stunted him, it seems, and his view of the world and others around him is quite simple. After a break up, he leaves NYC, literally on his feet, and moves to Arizona where he slowly enmeshes himself with the family next door. We experience all the ups and downs of the suburbs through his eyes.
This is a smooth, quick moving novel that should be read slowly. No drama, few conflicts, just a snapshot of life via a series of vignettes named after birds that Gil sees in his yard. Lydia Millet has created a beautiful work of art and I am excited for you to read it. If you love great prose, suburb tales, contemporary observations on life and the future for us all, Dinosaurs is for you! #LydiaMillet #Dinosaurs #WWNorton #Netgalley
I couldn't put this down! Dinosaurs tells the story of Gil, a wealthy middle-aged man who, when he moves to Arizona from New York City, decides to walk there. His new neighbors live in a house with a glass wall facing his own house. The story centers around the friendship Gil forges with the family of four that lives there and explores themes of family and belonging. Lydia Millet does a beautiful job of creating multi-dimensional complex characters and of carrying us along on their journey, with writing that is simple yet so articulate and insightful. I really enjoyed her last book, The Children's Bible, and I think this one is even better. 4.5 stars - highly recommend!
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