How the Dead Dream by Lydia Millet

How the Dead Dream

Lydia Millet

Materialistic protagonist T goes on a moral journey as he reassesses his priorities when his family fragments and he discovers human affection. A thought-provoking look at the inherent loneliness of the human condition and especially how the cynicism of capitalism blasts animals from their natural habitats. Poetic but discordant, the story invites the reader on a challenging existential trip with poignant universal questions.

You know who you were looking at, the whole time you grew up? I was a ghost.
I wasn't really there. It was all, I don't know, some other guy's life I stepped into by mistake. ...

T. felt drunken, his legs heavy beneath the desk. He swiveled in his chair and sadness closed his throat. There they were in his bedroom, when he was a little boy. His father sat on the side of the bed; it was bedtime, and here was his father to read him a story. Usually his mother read the stories, but this time his father had left the television and come upstairs. He almost smelled the new fresh paper of the picture book; he saw his father's large hands turning the pages with deftness, with authority. In the book there was a family of beavers, and they lived in a dam. Inside the dam it was warm and golden, and the beavers ate their dinner at a round wooden table. He remembered the softness of his father's voice.
Not real to his father; a life lived by a stranger. Sitting there on the edge of his bed, reading the book about the beavers who were warm in their dam, had been no one.
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