There are echoes of Katherine Dunn’s Geek Love and Nick Cave’s And the Ass Saw the Angel but, grotesqueries aside, Missouri Williams’ The Doloriad is a much stranger and disturbing beast. In a poisoned new world of rotting apartment blocks and disused buildings, the Matriarch is the leader of a small group of survivors after the “disaster”/“war”/“cataclysm”. She rules her extended ‘family’ with a certainty and intelligence that’s been shaped by the old world. She sees a future in a family that reproduces with itself, and maybe others, to increase its chances of survival - and works hard to wrestle this new world into a place to serve them in future. But she’s thwarted by her rebellious and growing brood who start to question her philosophy and approach to life. Especially after one of her daughters, Dolores, is sent into the forest as an offering to a group of strangers who don’t seem to exist. The world may have changed but not to the extent that a new generation doesn’t challenge the old, especially if they think the old are past it. Meanwhile, Mother Nature has her own plans as all kinds of vegetation continue to erase the old world and maybe even, “the seething, copulating virus of humanity”. Who owns the future? The Matriarch, Mother Nature or the angry younger generation who, at some level, understand that the new world is poisoning them, even as its fecundity overwhelms, “From the vantage point of the moon the earth was green, growing, changing, and maybe even thriving; as it moved away from their history of smoke and metal it became stronger, remembered its own past, how the world had been before them.” A reckoning approaches, but is the unlikely Dolores the source of a new beginning? Brutal, beguiling, visionary and, I’d wager, utterly different from any other novel you’ll read this year, The Doloriad is a present and future classic.
The Doloriad – Missouri Williams – publ. dead ink - £9.99