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John Darnielle

Universal Harvester

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Mar 27, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

John Darnielle, singer and songwriter for indie darlings The Mountain Goats, moonlights as a novelist, and Universal Harvester is his second book, following 2014’s excellent Wolf in White Van. In Universal Harvester, Darnielle follows Jeremy Heldt, a video clerk from a broken home (Jeremy’s mother died in a car accident years prior). Heldt’s life goes from monotonous to chilling when he stumbles upon the fact that a couple of his store’s movies have inexplicable mysterious homemade footage spliced into the film’s content. As the story unravels, the mysterious becomes mysterious-er, leading Heldt to a barn outside of town. The story flashes back to that of Lisa Sample, a girl whose mother seemingly runs away to join a cult, and forward past Heldt’s story to a family that finds an abandoned carload of similarly overdubbed movies on a newly purchased property. As the layers are peeled back, Darnielle leave the reader to connect the dots in a story that encompasses family, memory, legacy, and a curiosity of behavior that never truly gets explained. It’s a haunting story that will truly get under your skin. (www.fsgbooks.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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