Magnificence book review

Lydia Millet

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Susan murdered her husband, Hal. Well, she didn’t stick him with a knife or run over him with the car, but she blames herself for his death nonetheless. In Lydia Millet’s 2011 book, Ghost Lights, Hal discovers Susan’s affair with a fantasy-baseball enthusiast. Under the pretext of going to South America to search for Susan’s missing boss, Hal goes on a journey of self-discovery that results in his death. It isn’t until the beginning of Magnificence that Susan learns of Hal’s fate.

Each book in Millet’s concentric trilogy focuses on a different protagonist. These characters maintain a wobbly orbit around one another, and in the latest volume, Susan’s course is violently disrupted. In a strange turn of events, around the time she hears of her husband’s death, Susan inherits an enormous Los Angeles estate from a distant relative, which provides an intriguing platform for a meditation on life and death. Drew Toal

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