February 9, 2018

Canadian hemlock. This is the one and only thing that Anthony notices when he hits the ground, having been knocked over by the much smaller Uncle Arms, the demonstrative faux-Vaudevillian charity pageant impresario, who had unmasked him as not the journalist he claimed to be (131). Anthony, a 315-pound young man, the protagonist of Victor LaValle’s 2002 novel The Ecstatic, Or, Humunculus, is likely a schizophrenic (his mother is on and off of her Haldol, and his interior monologue often erupts into speech, which he only realizes by gauging the silent glares of his family), and has a remarkable botanical vocabulary and a sensitivity to the natural world, even as his fellow Queens residents se...

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