The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl
Source: Library copy
Publisher: Algonquin Books, 2014
Genre: Sci-fi, Magical Realism
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Set in a contemporary, yet alternate universe of Baltimore Maryland, this novel centers around the search for true love amongst a group of 20-somethings. Envisionists are quite popular and are quickly becoming mainstream by delivering one promise to their clients. A glimpse into their future life. The novel centers around two people in particular (Evelyn and Godfrey) and their relationships. Evelyn breaks up with her indie-band boyfriend because of a sad, sappy envisionist session in which they celebrate their cat’s birthday and have a fight about tacos. Godfrey’s girlfriend insists that they go through three sessions before she fully accepts his marriage proposal.
At the outset, this book reminded me so, so much of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, albeit with a different spin. There’s even a girl obsessed with famous quotes life in the movie. Although, rather than deleting someone special from your memory and forgetting your past, Sherl’s novel is about looking into the future with the desire of adding someone special into your life. Evelyn is a ghost child. A child born after her much older sister had passed away in a tragic car accident. Evelyn was never quite able to claim the same love from her parents as her sister and was left with a rather large hole in her heart that she constantly tried to fill. This is what constantly drew her to Dr. Chin’s office for multiple sessions.
Godfrey was skeptical of the envisioning sessions and only went reluctantly because his girlfriend made him. Although he grew up with a happy enough childhood, his adult-life was less than spectacular. He gave up his passion of teaching children for a business degree, but ended up with a dead-up job that he hated and a life of un-fulfilled potential. It isn’t until he bumps into Evelyn at Dr. Chin’s office one day that the two somehow manage to seep into each other’s subconscious, revealing themselves through the various envisioning sessions they attend. This then sets off a domino effect of change in their personal and professional lives as they try to sort through their feelings, relationships and emotional baggage.
Virtually everything about this book was well-done. At its heart, it’s a quirky sci-fi romance. Although the technology to see into the future was there, nothing more about it is explained other than exists. I actually liked that. It’s just the slightest element of magical realism to a simple love story. The writing is witty and sharp. I’m not sure how old the author is, but he nailed the 20-something mind-frame. The pacing was a bit quick, especially the ending. But even though the ending was predictable right from the start, I enjoyed the ride and all the various twists in the road. Sherl created a cast of well-rounded characters full of life and curiosity.