Author: Ben Lerner
Staff Picks: "This feels like the book for our present moment; a novel of ideas that examines why public life has grown tired of them. Closing out Lerner’s loose trilogy, we follow Adam, a debate champion rendered inarticulate among his friends by his excess articulacy. His mother, Jane, is a celebrated psychotherapist harangued by men who have been left by women empowered by her books. His father, a film-maker and psychotherapist who as a student discovered ‘speech shadowing’, an effect that occurs when people repeat words that are played back to them, causing them to descend into total nonsense. Together, and in a roundabout way, they reflect on the difficulties of raising a good man in a toxic culture.
There is a line that recurs: ‘Knowing is a weak state.’ And that’s what I was left with: a feeling that knowing that things are bad isn’t enough, and a hope that it might be possible, some time soon, to turn this knowledge into action."