Among the Lesser Gods
Arcade Publishing 2017
Margo Catts’ new novel Among the Lesser Gods (Arcade Publishing, 2017) opens in 1978, as Elena Alvarez, a newly minuted physics graduate living in LA, discovers she’s pregnant. She considers it to be just one more mistake in a lifetime of screw-ups. Her mother abandoned her after she accidentally set a deadly fire as a child, and she was raised by her cold distant father. She felt loved only when visiting her grandmother, who divides her time between the town of Leadville, Colorado, and a rustic mountain cabin in an old abandoned mining town. When her grandmother writes to ask Elena to come and babysit for two children whose mother is “gone,” Elena accepts with hopes that she can put off making any real decisions about her future. Through her grandmother’s stories, Elena starts to understand her father’s remoteness, and as the children she babysits become more attached to her, she starts to understand herself. “It seems a person is never finished learning about sorrow…” Elena’s internal conflicts, metaphysical musings, and reflections on family and forgiveness are all part of the stunning landscape. Then the two children go missing, and Elena is forced to confront the guilt that has followed her since childhood.