Wonder Valley: 01/19/20
Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda is a complex book about people trying to find themselves or their place in the world to varying degrees of success. It's told from multiple points of view across different times and places. In print, I found these jumps between locations, times, and people confusing, but it all seemed to come together as an audiobook.
The book opens with a man stuck in traffic on the 110 in downtown Los Angeles. As he's sitting there, a naked man runs by. Rather than just watch him go by, he gets out of his car and chases after him.
Other characters include a pair of homeless ex-cons who are walking through the California dessert, a woman who has fled UCLA after a car accident, a new age cult in the desert, and an older teenage boy who has tracked down his not-so-great mother in western Los Angeles.
All these disparate pieces are connected but it takes a good long while to see how they all fit together. You have to be in the mood to be patient with the narrative. If you're not, set it aside and try again later.
I originally read it for my road narrative project, but in reading it and in re-focusing my project, I have come to realize that Wonder Valley, while it shares elements with the road narratives I'm analyzing, it doesn't actually qualify as one.