Georgeann Packard's Fall Asleep Forgetting first came to my attention as a finalist for last year's Lambda Award. As a tale of interwoven lives (including a suicidal restaurateur, an adulteress, a jealous transvestite, a homophobic war veteran, and young tomboy who holds it all together), set in a rather unique trailer park, it manages to successfully hold its own against such a diverse cast of characters.
Although slow moving and, at times, a little repetitive, this is a wonderfully poetic story that is as much a joy to 'hear' as it is to 'read.' It takes a strange road to get started, jumping decades and characters, but there's a theme of loneliness that ties it all together. The story itself doesn't really get moving until the discovery of a body on the beach, but that's okay because it's an interesting ride getting there.
It may seem odd to talk of a story that's all about relationships, and to say it's haunted by a theme of loneliness, but that's part of why I enjoyed it so much. There's nothing obvious or expected about the writing, and you really have to accept the characters quirks in order to appreciate this scattered glimpse into their lives. This is also a novel about obsessions and excesses - sexual, emotional, physical, and culinary - and about the consequences of those excesses.
This wasn't the story I expected, but sometimes that's for the best. I would much rather be surprised and delighted by a tale, than to come away feeling . . . well, complacent. On the one hand, I think it could have benefited from a stronger focus on fewer characters but, on the other hand, I'm not sure it would have worked as well without them. I've thought about that for a few days now, and I still can't make up my mind, which is just fine by me.
I almost hate to say it, because it seems so obvious to me (yet hasn't been mentioned in a single review that I've seen), this is the kind of story that seems to cry out for a David Lynch screen adaptation. If that scares you away, then it's probably best that you take a pass, but if that intrigues you, I think you'll appreciate the read.