My review appears in Open!
Lethem has given communism a body where we can again feel its beating heart. Even more, he lets us sense the continued vibrancy of communist desire on the left despite the absence of a party. An insistent longing that refuses to reduce the world to what we are given infuses movements, impulses, theories, and acts that would otherwise appear as just so many singular instances. In the brilliance of Lethem’s writing, American communists endure without apology or shame, with beliefs that exist “in the space between one person and another, secret sympathies of the body. Alliances among those enduring the world.” For communists, living fully connected to the immensity of the human struggle for equality and justice means that disappointment and desire carry one another. What Lethem grasps, what he takes back from anti-communist propagandists, is how the epic subsumes the everyday. It doesn’t devour it. It infuses it, tying together the fragmented feelings and moments of embodied life.