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Review of Landscape with Invisible Hand

Landscape with Invisible Hand
by M. T. Anderson
Middle School, High School    Candlewick    149 pp.    g
9/17    978-0-7636-8789-2    $16.99

Parable, satire, dystopic sci-fi — Anderson’s take on a near future in which alien “vuvv” have colonized America’s economy, land, and airspace has so many shiveringly close resemblances to the contemporary world that it might also be called realism. The vuvv invasion started with a corporate trade agreement, and it’s the vuvv and Earth’s wealthy elite who have benefitted from it. For Adam’s family, as for most people, vuvv tech has meant loss of work, soot-filled air, filthy water, poverty, and illness. The best Adam and his girlfriend Chloe can do is monetize their affection: the vuvv pay to view 1950s-style romance. But what happens when Adam and Chloe can’t stand each other anymore? Adam hopes he’ll win the vuvv art competition, but he knows they prefer bland still lifes of fruit, and he can’t prevent himself from painting honestly, with a dark, desperate realism. Anderson’s prose is almost hyper-lucid here — appropriately so, as the story is structured around Adam’s descriptions of his paintings. Practically every word reflects a prescient, bitingly precise critique of contemporary human folly, of economic and environmental inequities and absurdities. “We keep trying to win…we’re American,” says Adam as his family struggles to resolve its calamities. “The secret to moving forward right now is losing.”

From the September/October 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Deirdre Baker About Deirdre Baker

Deirdre F. Baker, a reviewer for The Horn Book Magazine and the Toronto Star, teaches children’s literature at the University of Toronto. The author of Becca
at Sea (Groundwood), she is currently at work on a sequel—written in the
past tense.

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