In 2007, private investigator Castor Blue becomes obsessed with a middle school girl. But one night, the girl disappears… In 2038, a young man is stuck in a ditch with a talking caterpillar. The young man has only one memory, but he has no idea what it means…
In 2084, Arboss Covington convinces his wife to have one more child. But they leave the newborn at the incubation clinic for too long…
The Caterpillar King blends mystery, magical realism, and science fiction to create a story unlike any other. Pearlstone’s debut novel alternates between the surreal and the mundane, weaving humor and intelligence through each of its three stories. In the end, this is a book that shows us how we are all connected across time and space…by caterpillars.
The Caterpillar King by Noah Pearlstone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Three novellas woven together in a style similar to the works of David Mitchell, while also being reminiscent of the literary nonsense genre. I thought of Lewis Carroll on more than one occasion while reading this book - in part, because one theme offered up by the first story runs parallel with the speculation regarding Carroll's sexual proclivities (fellow bibliophiles just moaned in response to the spoiler). Noah Pearlstone can definitely evoke a sense of horror with very few words and without relying on graphic detail (which makes the back-story all that much worse when it plays out in my head).
But this book also read like literary nonsense and I'm not a fan of the genre. I wholly blame myself - when I read literary nonsense, I find the loose ends of the symbols/themes but can't follow the thread throughout the whole story which makes it hard to connect all the dots. And this story is exactly like that - I catch bits and pieces without seeing the whole tapestry.
The blurb for this book promises to "show how we are all connected across time and space... by caterpillars" but I still don't understand while feeling like I'm missing something. That being said, like most literary nonsense, this would be a good read for a book club because the symbolism would inspire discussion.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.