When Broder’s latest release landed on our desk, we admit, we were wary. Her previous novels and poetry are cult favourites (Milk Fed, anyone?), but they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Thankfully, Broder has a habit of taking any preconceptions you might have and ripping them up while looking you dead in the eye.
WellRead exists to bring you books that expand your literary horizons, sometimes that means books written by people whose voices don’t often take centre stage. Other times it means books with a Surrealist flair that make you think, I can’t believe she got away with that.
With work that is oft-described as ‘a fever dream’, Broder delivers again with Death Valley as she invites you on an ill-equipped hike through the scorching Californian desert. You’ll encounter everything from a giant cactus cave to talking rocks and a rave of rabbits.
As weird and wonderful as the disastrous hike becomes, it can’t hold a candle to the internal landscape. Our nameless protagonist walks the suffocating line of anticipatory grief, daring to broach the self-concerned thoughts that often get squashed in the midst of others' pain and suffering.
Despite the heavy existential considerations, we found ourselves giggling throughout the tale, feeling validated not just in our grief, but in our propensity to seek advice from Reddit, then ignore it right away.
“I came to escape a feeling – an attempt that’s already going poorly, because unfortunately I’ve brought myself with me,” Broder writes.