I Heart Oklahoma!
Roy Scranton (Learning to Die in the Anthropocene) flings an exceptionally odd, of-the-moment novel at Trump's America with I Heart Oklahoma!, a fever-dream road trip featuring three shapeshifting central characters. Jim is a nonconformist bad-boy filmmaker out to record contemporary Americana with the help of his regular cameraperson, Remy. He hires Suzie to write his script--two pages a day as they drive the country in a lime-green 1971 Plymouth. Suzie is skeptical of the whole thing, and pretty repelled by Jim personally, but she needs the money, and wasn't doing much else with her New York City apartment but feeding Steve the Cat. So the eccentric threesome hits the road.
Early on, the novel reads as a coherent story: tensions hover at barely manageable levels between the prickly, offensive Jim, impatient Suzie and Remy, who aims to please and therefore displeases Suzie, who wants an ally against their shared boss, and maybe wants to sleep with Remy. Sex and violence are constant undercurrents in the Plymouth, as in the country and culture they traverse, making fun and satirizing, for example, in a memorable scene starring Suzie in a wedding dress moving in slow motion through the Oklahoma City bombing memorial. After one member of the team abandons the others, the narrative turns decidedly hallucinatory.
This novel of sex, violence, apathy, despair and art offers a bizarre, lightning-paced excursion through the present. For readers on board with its wild, winding style, I Heart Oklahoma! incisively parodies a weird time to be alive. --Julia Kastner, librarian and blogger at pagesofjulia