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Something New Under the Sun

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Set in a darkly unsettling near-future Hollywood, a novelist trying to fix his troubled marriage reckons with connectedness, ambition, and corruption in the age of ecological collapse in this piercing novel from the prize-winning author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine East-coast novelist Patrick Hamlin has come to Hollywood with simple goals in mind: ove Set in a darkly unsettling near-future Hollywood, a novelist trying to fix his troubled marriage reckons with connectedness, ambition, and corruption in the age of ecological collapse in this piercing novel from the prize-winning author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine East-coast novelist Patrick Hamlin has come to Hollywood with simple goals in mind: overseeing the production of a film adaptation of one of his books, preventing starlet Cassidy Carter's disruptive behavior from derailing said production, and turning this last-ditch effort at career resuscitation into the sort of success that will dazzle his wife and daughter back home. But California is not as he imagined: drought, wildfire, and corporate corruption are omnipresent, and the company behind a mysterious new brand of synthetic water seems to be at the root of it all. Partnering with Cassidy--after having been her reluctant chauffeur for weeks--the two of them investigate the sun-scorched city's darker crevices, where they discover that catastrophe resembles order until the last possible second. In this poised and all-too-timely story, Kleeman grapples with an issue that is very much front-of-mind: the corruption of our environment in the age of alternative facts. She does so with a meticulous and deeply felt accounting of our very human anxieties, liabilities, dependencies, and ultimately, our responsibility to truth.


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Set in a darkly unsettling near-future Hollywood, a novelist trying to fix his troubled marriage reckons with connectedness, ambition, and corruption in the age of ecological collapse in this piercing novel from the prize-winning author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine East-coast novelist Patrick Hamlin has come to Hollywood with simple goals in mind: ove Set in a darkly unsettling near-future Hollywood, a novelist trying to fix his troubled marriage reckons with connectedness, ambition, and corruption in the age of ecological collapse in this piercing novel from the prize-winning author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine East-coast novelist Patrick Hamlin has come to Hollywood with simple goals in mind: overseeing the production of a film adaptation of one of his books, preventing starlet Cassidy Carter's disruptive behavior from derailing said production, and turning this last-ditch effort at career resuscitation into the sort of success that will dazzle his wife and daughter back home. But California is not as he imagined: drought, wildfire, and corporate corruption are omnipresent, and the company behind a mysterious new brand of synthetic water seems to be at the root of it all. Partnering with Cassidy--after having been her reluctant chauffeur for weeks--the two of them investigate the sun-scorched city's darker crevices, where they discover that catastrophe resembles order until the last possible second. In this poised and all-too-timely story, Kleeman grapples with an issue that is very much front-of-mind: the corruption of our environment in the age of alternative facts. She does so with a meticulous and deeply felt accounting of our very human anxieties, liabilities, dependencies, and ultimately, our responsibility to truth.

30 review for Something New Under the Sun

  1. 5 out of 5

    Adam Dalva

    Exciting book - exciting and strange, an eco-parable mashed up with a detective thriller, with sci-fi elements and hollywood pastiche mixed in - it's often funny, with a scary, sharp analysis of contemporary environmental issues lurking under the surface at all times. It's like: Inherent Vice meets an Alfred Hayes Hollywood novel. Keep your eye out for it. Exciting book - exciting and strange, an eco-parable mashed up with a detective thriller, with sci-fi elements and hollywood pastiche mixed in - it's often funny, with a scary, sharp analysis of contemporary environmental issues lurking under the surface at all times. It's like: Inherent Vice meets an Alfred Hayes Hollywood novel. Keep your eye out for it.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Book Clubbed,

    Thank you to NetGalley & Hogarth for the ARC. A fun, genre-pulverizing romp around LA that draws easy parallels to Pynchon, Chinatown, and, in my opinion, The Big Lebowski. In short, there are many ***characters*** in Hollywood, and those characters like getting into bizarre shenanigans. In a generalizing manner, genre fiction focuses on the action, while literary fiction lingers in the consequences of the action--the reflection, the emotional turmoil, and how it builds or destroys relationships. Thank you to NetGalley & Hogarth for the ARC. A fun, genre-pulverizing romp around LA that draws easy parallels to Pynchon, Chinatown, and, in my opinion, The Big Lebowski. In short, there are many ***characters*** in Hollywood, and those characters like getting into bizarre shenanigans. In a generalizing manner, genre fiction focuses on the action, while literary fiction lingers in the consequences of the action--the reflection, the emotional turmoil, and how it builds or destroys relationships. Under that categorization, this book is certainly literary fiction, more concerned with the emotional interior than surface-level tension. This isn't an admonishment, but just a heads up for potential readers. I found the characters aggravating at first, and worried that the cast of characters would never rise above hysterical versions of Hollywood tropes, scurrying about for cheap laughs. However, the main relationship won me over, and Kleeman kept developing the characters with a natural knack for describing the emotional interior. Once we set the characters in motion, the (admittedly small) moments of adventure find a new balance with the character reflections. I loved the tie-in with Cassidy's previous show, Kassi Keene: Kid Detective, I loved how WAT-R had monopolized the hydration market in California, and I loved the mysterious disease that underpinned the dark thrust of the story. I also enjoyed the role that nature plays throughout the novel, as characters do their best to reconnect to nature, even as the environment grows more hostile. Although Kleeman likes showing off her writing skills a little too much in these sections, they are nevertheless poignant, and uncomfortably timely given our current drought and wildfires. They also appear to be markers of time. As in, certain aspects of nature ground us to the incomprehensibly long history of Earth (at least incomprehensible to our small human lives). At other times, nature turns without warning, acting as a force of destruction or a locus of change enacted by humans, a reminder that the natural world, set in its patterns, can easily be disrupted by us.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Blair

    I thought Alexandra Kleeman might be a genius when I read You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine; now I know she is. Patrick Hamlin is a writer whose novel Elsinore Lane is being made into a film featuring Cassidy Carter, one-time child star of Kassi Keene: Kid Detective, now halfway to being washed up and better known as a tabloid darling. Patrick has been given a token role as production assistant, something he quickly realises gives him no say in what the studio do with the content. With his wife a I thought Alexandra Kleeman might be a genius when I read You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine; now I know she is. Patrick Hamlin is a writer whose novel Elsinore Lane is being made into a film featuring Cassidy Carter, one-time child star of Kassi Keene: Kid Detective, now halfway to being washed up and better known as a tabloid darling. Patrick has been given a token role as production assistant, something he quickly realises gives him no say in what the studio do with the content. With his wife and daughter cut off from civilisation at a ‘nature retreat’, Patrick is marooned in the neon sprawl of LA, watching helplessly as the material of his book – a personal, elegiac story about the loss of his father – is distorted into a bizarrely plotless horror movie. All this plays out against the backdrop of something that gradually reveals itself as a five-minutes-into-the-future setting. In California, tap water is a thing of the past. Instead there’s a privately supplied, supposedly chemically identical, completely ubiquitous, artificial substitute called WAT-R. Patrick is rattled when he sees a group of disorientated people being shepherded into a green van; later, he learns they are victims of a new phenomenon known as ‘Random-Onset Acute Dementia’. When he decides to investigate the links between WAT-R, the new disease and the movie, who better to help than the woman who played super-sleuth Kassi Keene? Something New Under the Sun is less weird fiction than You Too, but no less weird. The dialogue is often absurd, with sentences like ‘avoiding loss is impossible in a world that struggles to conjure even the basic sense of presence’ thrown out in casual conversation. People don’t talk like this, and it works so well – it knows its own absurdity, exists on its own plane. As in her debut, Kleeman is breathtakingly adept at taking symbols of capitalism, of celebrity, of consumer culture and warping them beyond all recognition, in doing so revealing the horror that lay beneath the surface all along. The perspective switches throughout, often without warning, from Patrick to Cassidy and away from them altogether. It’s like a filmmaking technique itself – like a drone hovering next to the characters and then, bored, wandering away to pan through the empty rooms of a house, to zoom in on the movements of animals and insects in the scrubland. The land is just as alive as the people – indeed, so is the WAT-R; so are the highways and air-con units. The setting is a triumph, simultaneously fascinating and hellish. The style is unique: trippy, dreamy, undoubtedly odd, yet somehow really humane; against all odds, it doesn’t feel detached from reality at all. If I had to compare it to anything... I suppose the mixture of a writer isolated from his family and hints of conspiracy, partly communicated through episodes of a TV show, reminded me of Red Pill, but god, this just does everything a hundred times better than Red Pill (and I liked that book! But Something New is more successful for me precisely because it leans into the weirdness of its weirdest aspects and lets that spin out in every direction rather than trying to tie everything back to events the reader will recognise). It could also be the eccentric sibling of We Play Ourselves, with its hallucinatory LA setting, and its blurring of reality as a film is made, and all its ideas and energy. I liked to imagine Patrick and Cassidy nearly, but not quite, crossing paths with Cass and Caroline. Only Kleeman could have written this, I’m convinced. Only she could have written something with these themes, make it as earnest as it is knowing, and not have it turn into a dreary sermon. A film industry satire/cautionary climate change novel/conspiracy thriller/near-future science fiction, a bizarre, wild, colourful odyssey through a version of reality that seems to be melting, returning the trappings of modernity to the primordial ooze... It’s the best, most ingenious book I have read this year so far, and I’ll be surprised if I find anything to match it. As it turns out, the title is wholly apt. I received an advance review copy of Something New Under the Sun from the publisher through Edelweiss. TinyLetter | Linktree

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra Kleeman

    Strong effort by a woman living in the blood and guts and compromise of the world!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Drew

    6 out of 5. I sat shocked and shimmering upon finishing this book. And then I started reading it again, immediately -- something I've only ever done before... with Alex's first book. It's a masterpiece, a furious and frightening look at the end of the world, the one we're living through. It will confound and delight, make you squirm and laugh. The world is ending but not before we get to read this -- and really, it's just our world that's ending, as this book makes violently clear. 6 out of 5. I sat shocked and shimmering upon finishing this book. And then I started reading it again, immediately -- something I've only ever done before... with Alex's first book. It's a masterpiece, a furious and frightening look at the end of the world, the one we're living through. It will confound and delight, make you squirm and laugh. The world is ending but not before we get to read this -- and really, it's just our world that's ending, as this book makes violently clear.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Something New Under the Sun is a captivating and ambitious tale in which a novelist discovers the dark and disturbing side of Hollywood and reckons with ambition, corruption and connectedness in the age of capitalism, environmental collapse and ecological awakening - set against the searing heat of a near-future Los Angeles, CA. East Coast novelist Patrick Hamlin has just arrived in LA in order to supervise the making of his book, Elsinore Lane, a sad and emotional novel inspired by his father's Something New Under the Sun is a captivating and ambitious tale in which a novelist discovers the dark and disturbing side of Hollywood and reckons with ambition, corruption and connectedness in the age of capitalism, environmental collapse and ecological awakening - set against the searing heat of a near-future Los Angeles, CA. East Coast novelist Patrick Hamlin has just arrived in LA in order to supervise the making of his book, Elsinore Lane, a sad and emotional novel inspired by his father's passing, into a film. As part of the adaptation deal, he is provided with a job on the set but unfortunately, it entails being the errand boy to former child star and notorious pain the backside Cassidy Carter, who has been cast in the lead role; his main task, however, is to ensure the unpredictable and tempestuous starlet turned B-lister makes it to the set on time. As if that wasn't bad enough, Patrick finds that he barely recognises the script when compared to the book, which isn't exactly brilliant. But outdoors, bigger problems are brewing. Nearby a wildfire rages, ravaging everything in its path and causing mass devastation likely caused by a drought making the area arid and in desperate need of water. A new company that has just appeared on the horizon, one providing a privatised supply of a synthetic form of water known as WAT-R seems to be behind the environmental crisis. Could corporate corruption, greed and the need to make a profit really be at the centre of the chaotic ecological scenario the residents of the area are now experiencing? Partnering with Cassidy, Patrick heads out to investigate the sun-scorched city's darker crevices, where they discover that catastrophe resembles order until the last possible second. This is a compulsive and thought-provoking read with a lot to say on current affairs especially regarding climate change and how the way we live is affecting the world around us yet we are too set in our cushy lifestyles to try to make a meaningful change. What unfolds is a heightened simulation of our own precarious times and a parable about the difficulty of imagining an exit from them. Kleeman was inspired to write the story due to the perpetual proliferation of conspiracy thinking, her childhood on the outskirts of Los Angeles and the role of plate tectonics. Action-packed, propulsive and palpably tense from start to finish, I found myself completely enthralled and entranced by the chilling yet intelligent plot, which I absolutely tore through. This is a witty, profound and wickedly twisty novel that is not only thoroughly entertaining but also explores how artificial solutions can lead to even greater problems, with potentially dire consequences for humanity. It brings Kleeman’s fascination with consumerism, artificiality and biopolitics to bear on the California water crisis, an ecological catastrophe unfolding in slow motion. The natural landscape is often pushed to the background of human-centred stories—but her goal is to write about this landscape in a way that gives it agency, insists on its role in everything we do and highlights the way in which supposedly minor changes to our relationship with our surroundings can have truly catastrophic ramifications. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Sometimes you read a book which you know will stay with you and this, for me, was definitely one of those novels. Patrick Hamlin is a novelist, who travels to Hollywood to 'oversee' the film adaptation of one of his novels, "Elsinore Lane." However, once he gets his hand on the script, he finds his personal tale of his father's death has become something unrecognisable, while 'overseeing,' the film, means that he is mainly running errands for Executive Producers Jay Arkid and Brenda Billington. Sometimes you read a book which you know will stay with you and this, for me, was definitely one of those novels. Patrick Hamlin is a novelist, who travels to Hollywood to 'oversee' the film adaptation of one of his novels, "Elsinore Lane." However, once he gets his hand on the script, he finds his personal tale of his father's death has become something unrecognisable, while 'overseeing,' the film, means that he is mainly running errands for Executive Producers Jay Arkid and Brenda Billington. One of his jobs is to drive around starlet Cassidy Carter; previous child star of 'Kassi-Keene: Kid Detective.' Patrick feels that his life is falling apart. His wife Alison and daughter, Nora, have relocated to a nature retreat called, 'Earthbridge,' where extinct creatures are mourned and Nora has visions. There is one pay phone and Alison seems uncontactable, leaving Patrick worrying, watching old Cassidy Carter shows and reading the message boards which spill over with conspiracy theories. This novel is set in the near future and the main differences between then and now is that people rely on a chemical substitute for water, named 'WAT-R,' the countryside seems to be constantly on fire and people are suffering from a disease, called Random-Onset Acute Dementia (ROAD). When Patrick and Cassidy suspect a link between Jay and Brenda, WAT-R and ROAD, they embark on a strange road-trip to try to discover the truth and to find out what really matters. Sometimes, books have odd couples, or pairings, and Patrick and Cassidy are certainly a strange combination, but work well together. Patrick is a man who is floundering in his career, and his marriage, while Cassidy is both outwardly confident and inwardly vulnerable. Cassidy has known the dark side of fame, but is always very much aware of how to use it. While people have plastic surgery to recreate her perfect nose, castigate or admire her on the internet, or watch her - all too public - meltdowns, she attempts to retain her dignity and her career. Sometimes sad, always thoughtful, the depth of the characters make this book worth reading. I received a copy of this book from the publishers, via NetGalley, for review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Somewhere between 3 - 3.5 rounded down It's frustrating that I have to give a rating to this one: at times I loved it, and the writing and the feeling the book evoked in me felt new and exciting - like I was experiencing something truly different and unique, and other times I felt like I was just missing something. I think it's best to go into this mostly blind but expecting a book which is almost uncanny, cli-fi which also feels like a detective novel at times... and like a scathing indictment o Somewhere between 3 - 3.5 rounded down It's frustrating that I have to give a rating to this one: at times I loved it, and the writing and the feeling the book evoked in me felt new and exciting - like I was experiencing something truly different and unique, and other times I felt like I was just missing something. I think it's best to go into this mostly blind but expecting a book which is almost uncanny, cli-fi which also feels like a detective novel at times... and like a scathing indictment of modern society at others. I won't even try to summarise the plot here, but suffice it to say this is a book which is principally occupied with examining the ramifications of water becoming a scarce commodity and wildfires a daily reality. But it's also a satire of Hollywood and modern life in contemporary America. Overall I enjoyed the ride this book took me on (it's very different from anything I've read in quite some time), and as other reviewers have noted the prose is memorable. But I failed to 'get' the wider point Kleeman was trying to make with the novel, and I feel like things lost their way (and were lost on me) a bit in the last 25% or so. If this sounds at all intriguing I'd recommend checking it out. Kleeman is an exciting writer, and I'll definitely be checking out her other books (You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine and Intimations: Stories). Thank you Netgalley and 4th Estate for the advance copy, which was provided in exchange for an honest review.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Yahaira

    3-3.5 This is such a weird book to rate. There was some beautiful prose and imagery. But there was also over written dialogue that made everything drag. It’s funny to read philosophical bros talking, but the joke grows weary quickly: --- The Arm shakes his head, gazing out the window at small plumes of smoke in the distance, on the occluded face of the yellowing foothills. “It’s because nobody can see the whole picture. There’s enough road for all the cars to move along smoothly at the same speed 3-3.5 This is such a weird book to rate. There was some beautiful prose and imagery. But there was also over written dialogue that made everything drag. It’s funny to read philosophical bros talking, but the joke grows weary quickly: --- The Arm shakes his head, gazing out the window at small plumes of smoke in the distance, on the occluded face of the yellowing foothills. “It’s because nobody can see the whole picture. There’s enough road for all the cars to move along smoothly at the same speed, but even if we understand this at a rational level, we can’t do anything with the knowledge. Our default is to behave as self-interested individuals. Sometimes we work against that principle and defer to another driver, but even that’s just a variant on individualistic behavior. When you slow down to let someone merge in, you contribute to the worsening of the whole.” He nudges the gas pedal. The car lurches forward three feet, and then rolls down to a near halt. “Altruism is no escape. Only an exhaustive revolution could hope to alter the scale of daily existence,” says Horseshoe, searching the glove compartment for more gum. The plot (very light one) doesn't really take off until over halfway through the book. I would not call this an eco thriller or detective thriller as others have - the word thriller does not apply here. The ‘mystery’ really falls flat and most of the answers are pretty obvious to us. Which I think was the point. This book was more about what is hidden in plain sight, what our (authentic?) relation to reality is, and how many of us it takes to face reality or to skew it. --- Reality was easier to override than ever, and the substitute was much more potent, much harder to forget ……. There were other planes of reality that could be accessed, other ways of putting the world in order, which were no less true or concrete. There’s a movie possibly being made, fake water being sold as Wat-R, drought and fires all over California, but what I wanted to know more about was the commune in upstate NY called Earthbridge. They mourn ecological losses, limited to three a day, but not personal ones since that would be indulgent. That may be the story I was looking for. Thank you Random House for the ARC!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Alex Gilvarry

    The two main characters, the novelist Patrick Hamlin and starlet Cassidy Carter, are some of the most unforgettable characters I've read in years. They have that unlikely-pair dynamic that we all feel comfort in, and it's so much fun falling down the spiral of an eco-mystery with them as our guide. But the biggest surprises won't be found in how the plot unravels or the whodunnit (which this book has in two or three subplots). The biggest reveal is in the prose--the sentences and language will m The two main characters, the novelist Patrick Hamlin and starlet Cassidy Carter, are some of the most unforgettable characters I've read in years. They have that unlikely-pair dynamic that we all feel comfort in, and it's so much fun falling down the spiral of an eco-mystery with them as our guide. But the biggest surprises won't be found in how the plot unravels or the whodunnit (which this book has in two or three subplots). The biggest reveal is in the prose--the sentences and language will make you chuckle, delight, and despair. The characters' emotions and desires are deeply connected to the Earth (even the ambivalent ones), as is the emotional core of this novel. (Currently reading THE OVERSTORY--and 'Something New' is a nice companion novel that dips into genre.) If you're looking for a plotty plotted thriller this is definitely not for you. But if you get your kicks from something imaginative, subtly recognizable with an altered apocalyptic bend, and from sentences that rollick--you're gonna love this book!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Maybe I'm reading too many of these chicken-little dystopian novels, but I got impatient with this one. Here, water production has become privatized in California, and that is scary enough, and reading about the different grades of manufactured product just made me extremely thirsty. Maybe I'm reading too many of these chicken-little dystopian novels, but I got impatient with this one. Here, water production has become privatized in California, and that is scary enough, and reading about the different grades of manufactured product just made me extremely thirsty.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Dekker

    “Adulthood was a curious inversion of childhood helplessness; you were pinned in place by what was below you and around you, by what you owned and loved, rather than any sort of higher authority.” “..it takes strength to believe in what’s not there. To insist that something is true when your eyes and ears and brain and heart tell you it’s not.” In this story, set in a near-future dystopia, we follow Patrick, an author. He’s been flown across the country, to Hollywood, to work on the film adapt “Adulthood was a curious inversion of childhood helplessness; you were pinned in place by what was below you and around you, by what you owned and loved, rather than any sort of higher authority.” “..it takes strength to believe in what’s not there. To insist that something is true when your eyes and ears and brain and heart tell you it’s not.” In this story, set in a near-future dystopia, we follow Patrick, an author. He’s been flown across the country, to Hollywood, to work on the film adaptation of his novel, but as a PA and with no agency over how his novel translates to film, no participation in the screenwriting process, but instead hired as an assistant and chauffeur to Cassidy Carter, the star of the film. With his marriage on edge, his wife and daughter having driven north to a compound in Maine, Patrick begins to suspect something isn’t quite right with the production of the film. With wildfires engulfing most of California, most of the west coast population is relying on a synthetic form of water called WAT-R, which is being mass produced by a suspicious new company. Cassidy appears to be one of the only people who doesn’t drink WAT-R and thus sets out to investigate this company alongside Patrick — I won’t say more than that as I don’t want to ruin any of the secrets before you’ve even had a chance to see them unravel. In this novel there’s a mix of detective noir fiction, conspiracy theories, familial drama, satire, with elements of humor, an environmental crisis, and capitalism. I found this book to be so Smart, with a capital S. Truly unique and unsettling to say the least. An entertaining whirlwind of a novel, where at times I felt I was escaping into a Black Mirror episode, yet also interwoven were some beautiful passages that I couldn’t help but highlight. I found Alexandra Kleeman’s writing style to be so refreshing, with an important message on climate change, wrapped in dark humor - all of which I truly appreciated. This may not be the book for everyone, and is a little more plot heavy than I’m typically drawn toward, but I can’t deny the admirable quality to Kleeman’s writing and her overall message. If you’re looking for an environmental dystopia that’s witty, fun and outright weird, this is the book for you. I can’t wait to purchase a final copy so that I can reread and annotate because this book definitely deserves a spot on my shelf. *Thank you to Hogarth for providing me with this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I truly appreciate it.* **The quote included is from a digital advanced reader’s copy and is subject to change upon final publication.**

  13. 4 out of 5

    talia ♡

    thank you so much to NetGalley for the arc!! i am thrilled to read this book!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    An okay story, including a mystery that's so transparent I'm not even sure it's supposed to be a mystery, ruined by bad characters. Specifically Arm and Horseshoe, who aren't characters so much as they are mannequins used to deliver long paragraphs of stoner philosophy before they drift back off into the background. They're non-characters, and the book suffered by dedicating pretty much the entire first chapter to their rambling. It never really recovered from that, even though the characters ev An okay story, including a mystery that's so transparent I'm not even sure it's supposed to be a mystery, ruined by bad characters. Specifically Arm and Horseshoe, who aren't characters so much as they are mannequins used to deliver long paragraphs of stoner philosophy before they drift back off into the background. They're non-characters, and the book suffered by dedicating pretty much the entire first chapter to their rambling. It never really recovered from that, even though the characters eventually vanished from the story entirely. I'd be willing to give the author a second chance on another book, but I really hope she gets better with her characters with it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Juniperus

    Firstly I’d like to say that after reading both her novels, Alexandra Kleeman is one of the best prose writers working today. She effortlessly describes the familiar in the most horrific ways, forcing you to look at things you take for granted in a new light. That being said, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine was great until the end, when genre elements were brought in sort of jarringly. Something New Under the Sun introduces them right away, namely WAT-R, a privatized artificial water. Because Firstly I’d like to say that after reading both her novels, Alexandra Kleeman is one of the best prose writers working today. She effortlessly describes the familiar in the most horrific ways, forcing you to look at things you take for granted in a new light. That being said, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine was great until the end, when genre elements were brought in sort of jarringly. Something New Under the Sun introduces them right away, namely WAT-R, a privatized artificial water. Because of the focus on water and its cycles, the book feels sort of like the eco-thriller version of Chinatown, or maybe The Crying of Lot 49. Of course, the regionalism might be why I’m thinking of those, you could even call this book “SoCal Gothic.” Like her last book, Something New Under the Sun is a story about vapid people and culture, consumerism, advertising, and this time environmentalism. Kleeman writes with love about nature and there are some surprisingly beautiful passages that reminded me of Rachel Carson’s prose. This contrasts well with the abject horror of the rest of the story. The book takes place on a film set, something I know intimately well (props to Kleeman because this was very accurate)! Parts of this book were so terrifying they were funny, and this book honestly gave me a crazy episode of paranoia. This book has a lot to say, but I wish it was more like You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine, where the horror lies in the mundanity of everyday life rather than a grand sweeping conspiracy.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    Novelist Patrick Hamlin travels from the East Coast to Los Angeles to work on the television adaptation of his novel, but finds that nothing is quite as he expected it to be. He’s been signed on as a coffee-run assistant rather than in a major production role, the script is barely recognizable as his story, and washed-up actress Cassidy Carter has been cast in a starring part. But Something New Under the Sun is far more than a satire of the film industry, which becomes readily apparent as the en Novelist Patrick Hamlin travels from the East Coast to Los Angeles to work on the television adaptation of his novel, but finds that nothing is quite as he expected it to be. He’s been signed on as a coffee-run assistant rather than in a major production role, the script is barely recognizable as his story, and washed-up actress Cassidy Carter has been cast in a starring part. But Something New Under the Sun is far more than a satire of the film industry, which becomes readily apparent as the environmental dysfunction of Los Angeles and the suspiciously uninvested behavior of the film’s producers grow more and more obvious. Patrick vacillates ineffectively between trying to get a handle on what is happening in LA and attempting to reconnect with his wife Alison, who in his absence has gone with his daughter to a commune with no cell service where the residents mourn each day for the recently-extinct species and vanished glaciers of the planet. On top of everything happening with his career and marriage, Patrick is disturbed by the apparent connections between WAT-R, the synthetic water that has become ubiquitous in drought-stricken Southern California, and a spate of random-onset dementia cases that seem to be growing in frequency. There is so much going on in this novel that it is pretty impossible to summarize (I’ve already left out all the stuff going on with Cassidy Carter, who has her own motivations and preoccupations), so I’m going to stop trying. Kleeman blends the real, the absurd, and the almost-plausible; in one moment she describes vividly tangible tableaux of the natural world encroaching on a recognizably grungy LA, and in another, a character will butt in with a stultified philosophical pronouncement that no one would utter in real life. Her characters struggle to grasp what is real, what is important, what is leaking away from them as they succumb to WAT-R-induced dementia… Kleeman has a dexterity with slightly-absurd near-reality comparable to that of Pynchon or Nabokov, surreptitiously introducing slightly-weird elements that go almost-unnoticed by reader and characters alike. Most compelling (and disturbing) is the way Kleeman uses the disconnect between Alison’s and Patrick’s perspectives to evoke the paralysis and despair of living in a world that’s slowly being destroyed by our comfortable indifference. I enjoyed reading this and will definitely be checking out more of Kleeman’s work. Thank you to Random House, Hogarth for the NetGalley ARC.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mehak

    It’s unusual that I’m unable to finish a book, but getting through this one felt like such a chore I had to stop with 90 pages left. I picked it up because Kleeman’s novel was compared to Delillo,’s work — it’s very clear the overlaps between this book and Delillo’s “White Noise,” which was hugely influential for me as a reader. But “Something New Under The Sun” falls short of “eco-thriller” and is slow-moving and full of fairly obvious/on the nose political statements about capitalism, water in It’s unusual that I’m unable to finish a book, but getting through this one felt like such a chore I had to stop with 90 pages left. I picked it up because Kleeman’s novel was compared to Delillo,’s work — it’s very clear the overlaps between this book and Delillo’s “White Noise,” which was hugely influential for me as a reader. But “Something New Under The Sun” falls short of “eco-thriller” and is slow-moving and full of fairly obvious/on the nose political statements about capitalism, water in California, California itself, and parasocial relationships. This might have been better as a novella, HBO max limited series, or A24 film. It also may have been more impactful if it were written 20 years ago.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    It's fun to have a new Pynchonesque semi-dystopian madcap conspiracy thriller! This is a shaggy, wild, arch story about a screenwriter, a Hollywood starlet, a sketchy movie production, and a creepy privatized water ("WAT-R") company that's running the entire supply in California. It's stuffed--maybe overstuffed--with little flights of fancy like a group of PAs who speak in heightened philosophical dialogue, a web forum of conspiracy theorists obsessed with a teen detective show, a commune dedica It's fun to have a new Pynchonesque semi-dystopian madcap conspiracy thriller! This is a shaggy, wild, arch story about a screenwriter, a Hollywood starlet, a sketchy movie production, and a creepy privatized water ("WAT-R") company that's running the entire supply in California. It's stuffed--maybe overstuffed--with little flights of fancy like a group of PAs who speak in heightened philosophical dialogue, a web forum of conspiracy theorists obsessed with a teen detective show, a commune dedicated to mourning the extinction of the earth, and the many commercial absurdities of the WAT-R company. Kleeman's language really soars in the descriptive passages. They're weird, beautiful, extreme, and grandiose. And the dialogue is intentionally unrealistic but stylistically consistent, funny, and thoughtful. With the Pynchon influence, I knew not to expect threads to be neatly tied. However, I did struggle with some of the fundamental world-building, which is harder to forgive than messy endings. There were unresolved questions that plagued my reading: Why did a screenwriter sign on to be the PA for his own movie adaptation? How did a company take over the entire water supply in California but the East Coast is seemingly untouched by it? Is there no government? The lack of a mention of governmental oversight was frustrating from a narrative and substantive perspective. I would've completely believed if governmental reps had been bought out by WAT-R, but instead we get an anarchic libertarian world where the only choices are personal choices--either decide to mourn, decide to be complicit, or become renegades trying to resist. The stakes for the conspiracy investigation might've been more interesting if we knew what accountability would've looked like. Are there journalists in this world? Activists? Is everyone sort of lobotomized? I get that it's a cynical dystopia, but I at least wanted to understand more about how and why it became the way it is. Maybe it's saying there's no way out IRL, which could be true, but I wished for some means of change in this world, even if these characters are doomed.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlyn

    "Something New Under the Sun" by Alexandra Kleeman is an unsettling novel that presents a world eerily like our own with nature and humanity slowly on the decline. Full of humor, wild adventures, and suspicious activity that upends the natural routine of life, Kleeman's story is one that will truly resonate with readers (if not shake them to their core). Richard Hamlin flies off to California to oversee the production of his novel be turned into a film. What at first seems like the dream of a lif "Something New Under the Sun" by Alexandra Kleeman is an unsettling novel that presents a world eerily like our own with nature and humanity slowly on the decline. Full of humor, wild adventures, and suspicious activity that upends the natural routine of life, Kleeman's story is one that will truly resonate with readers (if not shake them to their core). Richard Hamlin flies off to California to oversee the production of his novel be turned into a film. What at first seems like the dream of a lifetime (it is Hollywood after all) turns out to be the complete opposite. Not only is Richard given the role of production assistant (which has him constantly running errands) and the duty of reluctant chauffeur for troubled starlet Cassidy, but the burning plains of California are threatening to fry everyone to a crisp. On top of it all, Richard's family has gone off the grid to some hippie retreat that grieves the loss of the natural world and the humans who are responsible. Richard and Cassidy, the unlikely duo, team up to uncover what is really going on with the film's production and why Richard's errands always lead to a rising corporation trying to sell synthetic water. A highly entertaining and mysterious novel that leads readers down a whirlwind of Cassidy's easily tempered personality and Richard's desire for stardom mix with an environmental crisis and human corruption in a thrilling, catastrophic story with a final, shattering conclusion. With beautiful passages that speak of unlimited love in regards to wilderness and wildlife, mixed with horrifying depictions of corruption, deterioration, and materialism, this is an epic read today's generation will relate to. Kleeman speaks to the rising fear of climate change and the inevitability of an earth's collapse due to the unhealthiness of human consumerism in a way that reflects the fears and paranoia many people are beginning to have about the environment. "Something New Under the Sun" is a thrilling, suspenseful novel with elements of humor that shed a light on the human condition and dying environment that needs protecting. Save this book to your reading lists and look for it on shelves on its expected publication date of August 3rd, 2021. This is a story you don't want to miss! Thank you Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group (Hogarth) for providing me with a free e-arc and the opportunity to write an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jaylen

    This book is WILD and so smart. There are so many moving parts here, in the hands of another novelist this could have been a mess. However this is a controlled, ambitious, lustrous, terrifying novel. Climate anxiety! Environmental collapse! Hollywood detective noir! Conspiracy theories! Hamlet allusions! Fading child actors! Familial tension! Fake water! Late capitalism!

  21. 4 out of 5

    miss.mesmerized mesmerized

    Patrick Hamlin leaves the east coast when his novel is turned into a film. This promises to be his big breakthrough, especially since Cassidy Carter is going to play the lead role. The young film and internet star is sure to attract a great audience. But from the start, Patrick has the sensation that strange things are going on. First, the bunch of youngsters who should care for him but do not seem to have a clue about the job and also Brenda and Jay who hardly show an interest in the film they Patrick Hamlin leaves the east coast when his novel is turned into a film. This promises to be his big breakthrough, especially since Cassidy Carter is going to play the lead role. The young film and internet star is sure to attract a great audience. But from the start, Patrick has the sensation that strange things are going on. First, the bunch of youngsters who should care for him but do not seem to have a clue about the job and also Brenda and Jay who hardly show an interest in the film they are about to produce. That life on the west coast differs from his eastern home does not surprise Patrick, yet the extent is astonishing since people heavily rely on a product called WAT-R instead of the ordinary water he knows. At the beginning, he is just annoyed by all the things which seem to go wrong and Cassidy’s diva attitude, however, after a couple of days, the hints that there is something really going on behind the scenes are hard to ignore anymore and thus, Patrick starts to investigate. Alexandra Kleeman‘s novel is the perfect read of the moment. Many people around the globe are unsure about what to believe and convinced that there is some kind of deep going conspiracy the ordinary people cannot see and therefore are just figures in a game without realising it. The ecological crisis with water shortage and raging wildfires in California is another aspect she cleverly incorporates into the plot. The reader, together with Patrick, tries to make sense of the things he experiences in California while his wife and daughter at home seems to have fallen prey to a strange cult which goes into the complete opposite rejecting all modern technology and focussing on basic needs and a reduced life on a farm outside town. While worrying about his family, Patrick cannot see clear and lacks support in his mixed feelings about the incidents on the film set. Cassidy is first presented in a way you would expect a young superstar to behave. However, her personality turns out to differ heavily from the public egocentric diva image thus revealing one of the few critically thinking and actually caring people. Even though the idea behind the plot is great and alluring, it was hard for me to really indulge in the novel. Yet, I liked Kleeman’s style of writing and will surely look out to read more of her.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Violet

    Patrick, a writer whose latest book is being turned into a film, is in Hollywood to assist (literally) on the set. Most of the area around Los Angeles is on fire, but life goes on. His wife Alison and his daughter Nora, both suffering from eco-anxiety, have gone to a retreat/commune, Erthbridge, where like-minded people meet and work the land, and have daily meetings to mourn species that have gone extinct, melted glaciers and other disasters. Cassidy Carter, a young actress who plays in the fil Patrick, a writer whose latest book is being turned into a film, is in Hollywood to assist (literally) on the set. Most of the area around Los Angeles is on fire, but life goes on. His wife Alison and his daughter Nora, both suffering from eco-anxiety, have gone to a retreat/commune, Erthbridge, where like-minded people meet and work the land, and have daily meetings to mourn species that have gone extinct, melted glaciers and other disasters. Cassidy Carter, a young actress who plays in the film, refuses to drink WAT-R, the trendy drink that replaces water - as only the East Coast still has running water. There is a new form of dementia going around, which may or may not be linked to WAT-R. It's all very grim but somehow this is the new normal and apart from Alison and Nora who feel the loss very painfully, everyone just gets on with things and adapt to this new reality. The first two thirds of the book are quite slow as the scene is being set and we follow Patrick hour by hour, watching him drive from the set to Cassidy's house to pick her up, being stuck in traffic because the fires have blocked a road, picking up some WAT-R delivery on the way, trying to call his wife on the payphone near Earthbridge.... It is already looking pretty bad, and it gets worse as we reach the last third of the book - everything accelerates, and the consequences of a world now unfit for life finally reaches the main characters. Kleeman is excellent at setting the scene - the menace is constant, from the fire to the WAT-R, to everyone just seemingly getting on with things, This is a more... accomplished and detailed book than "You too can have a body like mine" (which I also enjoyed) and an interesting book to read a day after the IPCC published their report on the climate emergency. Free ARC from Netgalley.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aoife McMenamin

    3.5 ⭐️ This genre-defying book was hailed by the New York Times as a “screwball comedy in a sci-fi hellscape, a freighted parable”. I was sufficiently intrigued to give it a go. Part speculative fiction, part climate crisis fiction, part Hollywood satire, part detective caper, it is a creepy, unsettling read that I didn’t quite know what to make of. My impression: Mulholland Drive meets The Big Lebowski meets Scooby Doo. The story goes as follows. Patrick, a writer, is in LA, ostensibly to work o 3.5 ⭐️ This genre-defying book was hailed by the New York Times as a “screwball comedy in a sci-fi hellscape, a freighted parable”. I was sufficiently intrigued to give it a go. Part speculative fiction, part climate crisis fiction, part Hollywood satire, part detective caper, it is a creepy, unsettling read that I didn’t quite know what to make of. My impression: Mulholland Drive meets The Big Lebowski meets Scooby Doo. The story goes as follows. Patrick, a writer, is in LA, ostensibly to work on a movie based on his book, starring Cassidy, an out of favour former child actress. Patrick however ends up running errands for the producers, which lead him to suspect that all is not as it seems with the movie. While this is going on, LA is burning. Californian wildfires are a permanent feature of life and all running water has evaporated. People have switched to drinking and using a manufactured water alternative called WAT-R. There is also a strange sudden onset acute dementia spreading among the population. So what exactly is going on? Patrick and Cassidy end up teaming up to investigate. Meanwhile on the East Coast, Patrick’s wife and daughter have decamped from NYC to an eco commune, hoping to live a more sustainable life. The book switches between the two locations (but more focus is on the LA story). I didn’t like any of the characters and I found the vibe of the book quite flat overall (I think ambient was the intention), but the story itself is intriguing in its strangeness. The book explores conspiracy theories and feels other worldly at times, but is sufficiently grounded in our world that you feel distinctly uneasy as a reader about how us humans treat this precious planet of ours. It’s safe to say this will not be a book for everyone, but there’s definitely a cohort of people out there who’ll read this review and think - that sounds right up my street. I can think of a few of you specifically who might enjoy this! For me, 3.5/5 ⭐️ I read a digital copy of the book courtesy of the publishers @4thestatebooks and @williamcollins via @netgalley. The book was published on 3 August 2021.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tess

    Woooooof what a book this is! Set in a near-future LA, SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN is a scathing look at our current climate crisis, the vapid and artificial nature of Hollywood, and a spin on environmental thrillers. Kleeman is a once in a lifetime writer, her prose authentic and beautiful and her stories are unique and pretty wild. This novel, her latest, cements her as being a can't miss author, though her books may not be for everyone. The plot follows an east coast author who travels to the Woooooof what a book this is! Set in a near-future LA, SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN is a scathing look at our current climate crisis, the vapid and artificial nature of Hollywood, and a spin on environmental thrillers. Kleeman is a once in a lifetime writer, her prose authentic and beautiful and her stories are unique and pretty wild. This novel, her latest, cements her as being a can't miss author, though her books may not be for everyone. The plot follows an east coast author who travels to the west coast to oversee the movie adaptation of one of his novels. Here, he becomes embroiled in Cassidy the leading lady's chaotic life, and the strange world of privatized water, which is taking over California during a seemingly apocalyptic drought. The thriller starts about half way through, as we begin to realize that WAT-R, the replacement water which only rich people can avoid drinking, is not as innocent a liquid as it seems. A novel very much of its time, it is weird and fun and though often times hard to penetrate, the roller coaster is worth the ride. Kleeman operates at a seemingly different level than the rest of us, her writing is elevated and strange and she always provides us with a sharp analysis of our contemporary, and sometimes scary, world. My only concern is that there is maybe too much going on in this one, which made it sometimes hard to connect to or pay 100% attention to. It's not an easy read, but worth the effort and time if you have it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karen Germain

    Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Alexandra Kleeman’s novel, Something New Under the Sun, in exchange for an honest review. Patrick Hamlin is thrilled and beyond flattered to learn that his novel will be turned into a major Hollywood movie. His ego is further stroked when he is invited to be a production assistant. Patrick’s dreams are soon crushed, when he realizes that he is a glorified water boy and that his screenplay bears little resemblance to his no Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Alexandra Kleeman’s novel, Something New Under the Sun, in exchange for an honest review. Patrick Hamlin is thrilled and beyond flattered to learn that his novel will be turned into a major Hollywood movie. His ego is further stroked when he is invited to be a production assistant. Patrick’s dreams are soon crushed, when he realizes that he is a glorified water boy and that his screenplay bears little resemblance to his novel. Still dazzled by the idea that this could be his Hollywood “In” Patrick sticks around and becomes a chauffeur for the leading lady, Cassidy Carter. Cassidy Carter is a former child star and notorious party girl. She is trying to break-free from her association with the character that made her famous, a teen detective. This hit show not only propelled her to stardom, but inspired a cult-like following that believes that the show was riddled with hidden messages that affect the real world. While people are focused on conspiracies and Hollywood, a real life and death scandal is unfolding on the west coast. Severe droughts have created a situation where a synthetic water product called “Wat-r” has replaced much of the real water. The product is insidious, and only the very wealthy are able to access authentic water. Cassidy even negotiates to be paid in real water for her role. Wat-R has been linked to cognitive decline in certain individuals, affecting people of all ages and races. This situation has been shrouded in secrecy with the affected being whisked away to private hospitals, but the more popular that Wat-R becomes, the more people are being affected, and the problem is increasingly more difficult to hide. Patrick and Cassidy begin to suspect that the producers of their film are involved in a nefarious Wat-R scheme and they become amateur sleuths, not unlike Cassidy’s former character. Something New Under the Sun is an anxiety producing read. It deals with some true fears of mine, including extreme drought, harmful substances, and general environmental woes. I finished Kleeman’s novel this morning and the first news story I read was about a dire climate change report. Something New Under the Sun takes place in a near-future and it is not unreasonable to think that some of the fictional results from this story could be a reality. I’m originally from Los Angeles, it’s always going to be my home. Kleeman did an excellent job with her descriptions of the city and the landscape, including the Palm Desert area. She also does a fabulous job at creating the characters that populate a movie set, those opportunistic loafers who are just waiting for their own big break. It’s an interesting contrast to have a story regarding the doom of humanity set against the Hollywood movie scene. Although I found the premise and the characters to be intriguing, I struggled to connect with the story, especially during the last third. Possibly my connecting block came from the sheer volume of anxiety I felt thinking about my beloved hometown devolving into a wasteland. It’s a bleak novel. Also, I think the end took such a strange and surreal twist that I wanted off the ride. My mind was wandering and I found myself skimming the last thirty or so pages. Like my review? Check out my blog!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Gierymski

    I’m sitting here after finishing this book like 😶😮 If this review seems a little all over the place and sporadic, it’s because it is and the book made me this way 🤣 This book is super unique to anything else I’ve ever read so it’s hard to give a straight review! It kinda gives me Fahrenheit 451/Orwell’s 1984 vibes. Dystopian-y, but sometimes you forget that it’s not set in present day. This book felt like a satirical commentary on our society, but also hit a little too close to home at times. It I’m sitting here after finishing this book like 😶😮 If this review seems a little all over the place and sporadic, it’s because it is and the book made me this way 🤣 This book is super unique to anything else I’ve ever read so it’s hard to give a straight review! It kinda gives me Fahrenheit 451/Orwell’s 1984 vibes. Dystopian-y, but sometimes you forget that it’s not set in present day. This book felt like a satirical commentary on our society, but also hit a little too close to home at times. It really made you think. I felt like I knew what was going on, then didn’t, then did, then didn’t, and yet enjoyed it the whole time. Some things went way over my head, but then still ended up making sense later on in the book. Alexandra’s writing is insanely amazing. I’m not sure it’d be for everyone, because it can be pretty dense, but it is soo captivating.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Near-Future nothingness. California, some time in the future void of any natural water due to a drought. A company that has weeded its way into the eco-system. May I present WAT-R. Minupulated to the point where like an addiction, the populus needs it, for all forms available. Addatives providing the need. Take one writer from the east coast, one troubled mid twenties child star whose completely off the rails, and jumble them up together. One sect, not cult where said writers wife and daughter hav Near-Future nothingness. California, some time in the future void of any natural water due to a drought. A company that has weeded its way into the eco-system. May I present WAT-R. Minupulated to the point where like an addiction, the populus needs it, for all forms available. Addatives providing the need. Take one writer from the east coast, one troubled mid twenties child star whose completely off the rails, and jumble them up together. One sect, not cult where said writers wife and daughter have taken leave to. One pair of film exec's who are milking the system in more ways than one. Mix them all together and throw them at blank pages. What you get is a fascinating read. One that keeps you guessing as to how it is going to end. And here is my only criticism. It just stops, it doesn't end. Is there going to be anymore? I hope so. I want to know what happens next...

  28. 5 out of 5

    John

    4.5 “Heaven could be a fiction told about this place: light soaks the water as living tufts stray into the tendrils of medusas, floating in and out of life. Everything is soft here, and death has the roundness of an embrace. A worm-shaped thing crawling the seabed reaches a colorful polyp and begins to pull it into its mouth. A sensation like tearing travels through the blossomlike body, flashing with lingering bursts of fear. The flesh moves, quivers, folds inward as it is pulled into another’s 4.5 “Heaven could be a fiction told about this place: light soaks the water as living tufts stray into the tendrils of medusas, floating in and out of life. Everything is soft here, and death has the roundness of an embrace. A worm-shaped thing crawling the seabed reaches a colorful polyp and begins to pull it into its mouth. A sensation like tearing travels through the blossomlike body, flashing with lingering bursts of fear. The flesh moves, quivers, folds inward as it is pulled into another’s body tube and severed from existence. The pain is a buzzing in the air, not a scream, less like dying and more like coming undone”

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nico Vreeland

    Dnf at 40%. I feel like I’ve read the beginning of this book before: the asshole Hollywood producers, the diva starlet that only identifies with the main character because he doesn’t kiss her ass. At a certain point it diverts sideways into a very long description of a weird semi-sci-fi water company that feels completely tonally different from the first part of the novel. I never made it to the mystery that is supposedly lurking in there somewhere.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chris Roberts

    The walls weep ocean, dehydrating my pain Speaking in tongues They persuade me that goodbye is everything Do you dream of water walking across Jesus Awaken Prostate in a waste water gutter, drowning? #poem Chris Roberts, Patron Saint of the Semi-hydrated People

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