Omnivoresby Lydia Millet
Lydia Millet's first novel, Omnivores, is the story of young Estee Kraft, a dutiful daughter and prisoner in her own home - a home that her megalomaniac father, Bill, has turned into an armed camp after he secedes from the United States. In addition to rapacious (and loony) Bill, the other men in Estee's life are Pete Magnus, a vacuous Realtor who becomes her… See more details below
Lydia Millet's first novel, Omnivores, is the story of young Estee Kraft, a dutiful daughter and prisoner in her own home - a home that her megalomaniac father, Bill, has turned into an armed camp after he secedes from the United States. In addition to rapacious (and loony) Bill, the other men in Estee's life are Pete Magnus, a vacuous Realtor who becomes her common-law husband; and Little Bill, her terrible toddling son, a "cannibal baby" who from birth consumes everything from tortilla chips to his own toenail. Through Bill, Pete, and her baby, Estee bears wide-eyed witness to the outside world as daughter, wife, and mother, and, in the process, learns some difficult lessons about good ol' American consumerism. As Pete tells her, "Wake-up call. Everything has a price...Something's free, it means no one will pay money for it. Means it sucks." Estee struggles from the Kraft family compound in rural California to an LA penthouse, and, finally, to a golf resort for retirees in Florida. From sports bars and Jehovah's Witnesses to discussions of "inner children" and classes in effective parenting, Estee carefully observes the nature of American appetites - particularly the appetites of the American male. Burdened beyond bearing by her hyper-responsibility for satisiying the hunger of Father, Husband, and Son, Estee must free herself from the voracity - both literal and figurative - of the omnivorous males in her life.
Seventeen-year-old Estée Kraft has always lived as a prisoner of her own homethat home being her father's mansion an hour outside of Los Angeles. With a useless mother who took to her bed immediately after giving birth to Estée, and a sadistic father who collects insects and forces Estée to eat them when he isn't running a prosperous crematorium somewhere off the estate, home-schooled Estée has learned to survive on her own within this decidedly eccentric universe, though she knows nothing of the "real" world outside. Biding her time as she helps her father host a fighting- cock exhibition for his horrified employees, or arranges her crazy mother's Betty Boop collection, Estée finally manages to escape her father's clutches on her 18th birthday. Her getaway, though, lands her in the arms of Peter Magnus, a coke-snorting real-estate lawyer who imprisons her in turn in his world of get-rich-quick schemes and L.A. pick-up bars. Impregnated by Peter (though she believes the true father to be the shrunken head of a cannibal that's part of Peter's primitive art collection), Estée follows him to a newly purchased retired-folks retreat in Florida, where she raises their untameable, clearly cannibalistic son out of doors, trying to avoid an inevitably bloody disaster. After months of weathering her husband's emotional brutality and her son's physical greed, Estée finally does learn to consider her own needs as well as theirsand once she does, her men's entire world is burst asunder.
In satirizing American love of money, yuppie greed, and male egocentricity, first-time author Millet takes aim at some very easy targets. Perhaps next time she'll tell us something we don't already know.
- Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.31(w) x 7.32(h) x 1.06(d)
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