Mermaids in Paradise (Lydia Millet)

Article by ben

If critics only recently figured out what to do with Lydia Millet, go easy on them: it’s not like she made it easy. While some authors flog the same subject and style in book after book, Millet has made it her business to shape-shift since her 1996 debut. There’s the satirical GEORGE BUSH, DARK PRINCE OF LOVE; the atomic, DeLillo-esque sprawl of OH PURE AND RADIANT HEART; the trilogy of lonely, environmentally conscious Los Angeles novels, cresting with the magnificent MAGNIFICENCE. Hell, earlier this year, she even released her first YA novel (the terrific PILLS AND STARSHIPS).


All of her books are worth reading, but her new novel, MERMAIDS IN PARADISE, is the best of her career. In it, young newlyweds—emblems of American lives lived online—travel to an island resort for their honeymoon. There, they encounter the titular creatures: mermaids, far out in the ocean. It doesn’t take long for the mermaids to come under attack from bureaucratic resort officials that want to conquer the environment, turning every last natural resource into commerce. Working at this intersection of thematic seriousness and narrative lightheartedness, Millet winds up feeling mythical herself: the rare author who can issue dire warnings about American culture with a smile on her face.

Mermaids in Paradise Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393245622
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 3rd, 2014

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