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Landscape with Invisible Hand
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Landscape with Invisible Hand
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National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson returns to future Earth in a sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization. When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to...
National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson returns to future Earth in a sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization. When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to...
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  • National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson returns to future Earth in a sharply wrought satire of art and truth in the midst of colonization. When the vuvv first landed, it came as a surprise to aspiring artist Adam and the rest of planet Earth — but not necessarily an unwelcome one. Can it really be called an invasion when the vuvv generously offered free advanced technology and cures for every illness imaginable? As it turns out, yes. With his parents' jobs replaced by alien tech and no money for food, clean water, or the vuvv's miraculous medicine, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, have to get creative to survive. And since the vuvv crave anything they deem "classic" Earth culture (doo-wop music, still-life paintings of fruit, true love), recording 1950s-style dates for the vuvv to watch in a pay-per-minute format seems like a brilliant idea. But it's hard for Adam and Chloe to sell true love when they hate each other more with every passing episode. Soon enough, Adam must decide how far he's willing to go — and what he's willing to sacrifice — to give the vuvv what they want.

About the Author-

  • M. T. Anderson is an accomplished author of a wide range of titles, including works of fantasy and satire, for readers of various ages. He studied English literature at Harvard University and Cambridge University and went on to receive his MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University.

    M. T. Anderson is known for challenging readers to look at the world in new ways. "We write because we can't decipher things the first time around," he says. His previous books include Thirsty, a vampire novel; Burger Wuss, a revenge story set in a fast-food emporium; and Feed, a futuristic satirical novel widely lauded as one of the most important and pioneering works of the recent dystopian craze. A finalist for the National Book Award, Feed received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize or YA fiction in 2003 and a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor.

    The author's passion for history and classical music were inspirations for his sophisticated and much-lauded epic The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation,Volume I: The Pox Party, a National Book Award Winner, and Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves. The two novels, both Michael L. Printz Honor recipients, trace the story of a fictional slave in pre–Revolutionary War Boston — a time when American Patriots rioted and battled to win liberty, while African slaves were entreated to risk their lives for a freedom they would never claim.

    M. T. Anderson's work may be best known for its sophisticated wit and storylines, highlighting his belief that young people are more intelligent than some might think. When asked why he gives so much credit to his young audience, Anderson says that "Our survival as a nation rests upon the willingness of the young to become excited and engaged by new ideas we never considered as adults."

    M. T. Anderson was an instructor at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where he now serves as a board member. From 2003–2012, he also served on the board of the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance, a national nonprofit organization that advocates or literacy, literature, and libraries. He has published stories for adults in literary journals such as the Northwest Review, the Colorado Review, and Conjunctions. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from June 19, 2017
    Anderson (Symphony for the City of the Dead) sets this biting and brilliant satire on a near-future Earth where an alien race called the vuvv has brought advanced technology and cures for disease—and ushered in the collapse of Earth’s economy. Adam Costello, a 15-year-old artist beset by gastrointestinal illness, and his family are among the many desperate for money and work. Reluctantly, Adam and his girlfriend, Chloe, broadcast an exaggerated 1950s-quaint, pay-per-view version of their romance to the vuvv, who are entranced by “classic” Earth culture—doo-wop music, still-life paintings, and the notion of true, everlasting love. With Adam’s relationship with Chloe imploding, his illness worsening, and his art gaining vuvv attention, he must decide whether to bend to the whims of the vuvv or stay true to his humanity. Adam narrates in gloomy, vignettelike chapters whose titles (“Autumn in a Field Near a Discharge Facility”) give the sense of each scene existing as a painting in itself. The vuvv, described as resembling “granite coffee tables: squat, wide, and rocky,” are only interested in the parts of Earth culture they choose to acknowledge, and ignore the sweeping damage they’ve inflicted. “I just love the human race,” one of the vuvv tells Adam, patronizingly. “You people are so much more spiritual than we are.” Anderson takes issues of colonialism, ethnocentrism, inequality, and poverty and explodes them on a global, even galactic, scale. A remarkable exploration of economic and power structures in which virtually all of humanity winds up the losers. Ages 14–up. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick Literary.

  • School Library Journal

    June 1, 2017

    Gr 9 Up-The vuvv came in peace, offering new technology and life-changing medical breakthroughs. Yet their presence on Earth has slowly eroded Adam Costello's small town. Joblessness, illness, and food scarcity are the realities of his shaky existence, and his only solace is in his painting. When Adam begins to date Chloe, they realize that there's a moneymaking opportunity in their relationship. Taking advantage of the vuvv's fascination with 1950s-era American life, Adam and Chloe plan to film themselves going on old-fashioned dates. The aliens are willing to pay top dollar to watch these episodes. But the teens' love soon turns to animosity, and their grand plan holds dire implications for their families. This sharp, compelling, slim volume packs a punch. Anderson's vivid world could be a mirror for many American communities today. Poverty and its impact on food, health, and daily life are rendered in stark detail. Adam's passion for painting and his idealism in the face of the commercialistic vuvv are a moving nod to the power of art to transform lives. Despite the heavy subject material and pervading sense of doom, the book ends on a hopeful note, making this a solid choice for a variety of readers. VERDICT An engrossing, speculative look at life in the margins, this is a first purchase for libraries serving teens.-Erinn Black Salge, Morristown-Beard School, NJ

    Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from June 1, 2017
    Humans inhabit the bottom echelons in this brief satirical novel of alien invasion that envisions a scenario more whimper than bang. Adam, a talented artist, lives with his mother and sister after his father abandons the family. When the 1950s-culture-obsessed vuvv landed years before, people were taken in by their promises to supply advanced technology and medicine, not understanding that they'd soon be obsolete, impoverished, and, like Adam, who suffers from a debilitating intestinal illness, without any means to pay for medical care. In short vignettes titled as if they are pieces of fine art, the bleakness of this new reality is expertly rendered--as in an early chapter in which his mother is roughed up by a fellow job seeker who threatens to burn her "motherfucking house down" if she persists in applying for the same part-time position. When they decide to rent out part of their house to another family, Adam and their daughter, Chloe, fall for each other. Monetizing their connection by broadcasting their 1950s-styled romance for the vuvv becomes mightily complicated when the relationship sours. The ethnicities of the main characters are not specified--the only time race is textually indicated is a passage where white people are shown rioting on television and blaming Mexican workers for stealing their jobs--but references to European art and the way Adam and Chloe slide into a cliched movie vision of the 1950s both imply they are white and add further layers of interpretive complexity to the book. Resplendent with Anderson's trademark dry, sarcastic wit, this brief, complicated read serves as a scathing social commentary and, as the title indicates, an interrogation of free market economics. (Science fiction. 14-adult)

    COPYRIGHT(2017) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from June 1, 2017
    Grades 9-12 *Starred Review* Some fear that hypercapitalist technocrats, under the guise of altruism and progress, are fleecing the world; Anderson (Feed, 2002) stretches this premise to deliriously enjoyable extremes. In this novella-sized offering, an alien race known as the vuvv has overtaken the universe by promising to put an end to suffering with advanced technology. For most people on Earth, things don't pan out as planned. Sure, rich people in collusion with the vuvv get to live in sky mansions, but everyone stuck on the ground must contend with devastating poverty, a ruined environment, and the sundry humiliations of catering to a ruling class shaped like coffee tables. Enter Adam, our teenage hero, who happens to be a sarcastic artist suffering from considerable gastrointestinal distress. He and girlfriend Chloe start bringing in decent cash by streaming fake dates to vuvv audiences enamored with the notion of '50s sitcom romance. But when they break up in real life, can they keep up the illusion of being in love? What humiliations will they endure to keep their families from going hungry? Throw in a romantic rival, an interplanetary art contest, and plenty of scintillating details about the Lovecraftian horrors of the vuvv, and you've got the makings of an elegant, biting, and hilarious social satire that will appeal to dissatisfied, worried readers of all ages.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2017, American Library Association.)

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