A Children’s Bible by Lydia Millet
English | 2020 | General Fiction/Classics | ePUB | 4.7 MB
Lydia Millet has written twelve works of fiction. She has won awards from PEN Center USA and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and her books have been longlisted for the National Book Award, shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and named as New York Times Notable Books. Her story collection Love in Infant Monkeys was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. She lives outside Tucson, Arizona.
An indelible novel of teenage alienation and adult complacency in an unraveling world.
Pulitzer Prize finalist Lydia Millet’s sublime new novel-her first since the National Book Award long-listed Sweet Lamb of Heaven-follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion.
Contemptuous of their parents, who pass their days in a stupor of liquor, drugs, and sex, the children feel neglected and suffocated at the same time. When a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, the group’s ringleaders-including Eve, who narrates the story-decide to run away, leading the younger ones on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside.
As the scenes of devastation begin to mimic events in the dog-eared picture Bible carried around by her beloved little brother, Eve devotes herself to keeping him safe from harm.
A Children’s Bible is a prophetic, heartbreaking story of generational divide-and a haunting vision of what awaits us on the far side of Revelation.
They liked to drink: it was their hobby, or—said one of us—maybe a form of worship. They drank wine and beer and whiskey and gin. Also tequila, rum, and vodka. At midday they called it the hair of the dog. It seemed to keep them contented. Or going, at least. In the evenings they assembled to eat food and drink more.
Dinner was the only meal we had to attend, and even that we resented. They sat us down and talked about nothing. They aimed their conversation like a dull gray beam. It hit us and lulled us into a stupor. What they said was so boring it filled us with frustration, and after more minutes, rage.
Didn’t they know there were urgent subjects? Questions that needed to be asked?
If one of us said something serious, they dismissed it.
Later the talk grew louder. Freed of our influence, some of them emitted sudden, harsh barks. Apparently, laughing. From the wraparound porch, with its bamboo torches and hanging ferns and porch swings, moth-eaten armchairs and blue-light bug zappers, the barks of laughter carried. We heard them from the treehouses and tennis courts and from the field of beehives a slow neighbor woman tended in the daytime, muttering under the veil of her beekeeping hat. We heard them from behind the cracked panes of the dilapidated greenhouse or on the cool black water of the lake, where we floated in our underwear at midnight.
I liked to prowl the moonlit grounds by myself with a flashlight, bouncing its spot over walls with white-shuttered windows, bicycles left lying on the grass, cars sitting quiet on the wide crescent drive. When I came into earshot of the laughter, I’d wonder that any of them could actually have said something funny.
As the evenings wore on, some parents got it into their heads to dance. A flash of life would move their lumpen bodies. Sad spectacle. They flopped, blasting their old-time music. “Beat on the brat, beat on the brat, beat on the brat with a baseball bat, oh yeah.”
The ones with no flashes of life sat in their chairs watching the dancers. Slack-faced, listless—for practical purposes, deceased.
But less embarrassing.
Some parents paired off and crept into the second-floor bedrooms, where a few boys among our number spied on them from between the slats of closet doors. Saw them perform their dark acts.
At times they felt stirrings. I knew this. Although they did not admit it.
More often, repugnance.
Most of us were headed to junior or senior year after the summer was over, but a few hadn’t even hit puberty—there was a range of ages. In short, some were innocents. Others performed dark acts of their own.
Those were not as repugnant.