Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett, review by Sarah Bagby
Novelist and short story writer Adam Haslett’s new novel Imagine Me Gone portrays a family of five whose story is tragic, loving, and at times, gut-wrenching. In the 1960s Margaret faces a choice when her fiancé John is hospitalized for depression. Such is her sense of commitment and love that she marries John and they have three children.
When financial strain hits, John has more and more recurring periods of hibernation. Their son Michael has inherited his father’s mental illness. The novel takes place over decades and with intimate detail and some humor as we live with the family as they go about life. It’s told in the voice of each family member, in addition to John, Margaret, and Michael, there is Celia--high functioning and capable--and Alec, driven, ambitious and tightly wound. Haslett weaves a narrative of each member of the family in a 50-year saga. There are tragedies, triumphs, and moments of grace.
Imagine Me Gone drew out of me a full range of emotion: the family he created inspires me to both celebrate and mourn my own family for the struggles we never imagine; the moments of grace we least expect; and the tragedy of instability. I underlined passage after passage of brilliant and insightful descriptions of the love of a mother or sibling and the sacrifices made in order to come to terms with the maladies afflicting a loved one. Painful are the realities of our limits to save, but I had nothing but forgiveness and empathy for Haslett's fatally flawed characters and those in my own life who have succumbed to the monsters that can unwittingly surface from our innermost selves. Imagine Me Gone is a literary achievement of the highest order.
Sarah's review first appeared on 89.1 KMUW. You can listen to the review HERE.