The novel begins on April 29, 1992. Listening to his car radio, Lowel Briscoe hears the “not guilty” verdict in the Rodney King beating trial. A riot erupts in Los Angeles, and he is dragged from his car and brutally assaulted. Next, the novel flashes back to June 23, 1949, and we are introduced to Hana Nicholas, a wealthy eccentric living in Alburquerque, New Mexico. Thus begins the threads of the story about their relationship, randomly explored over 45 years. Hana, a social pioneer and tireless community volunteer, becomes mentor to the sensitive young Lowel. Their brief relationship ends when Hana is abruptly placed in protective custody then sentenced to a mental institution where she dies nine years later. He cannot come to terms with the vague reasons and motivations as to why Hana, who was the most insightful, sensitive, and creative character he had known, was abused by society. This haunts him his entire life.
V. B. Price has crafted a wonderful novel that the title aptly reflects. The protagonist is at odds with the world and himself, and rightly so. Price explores the experience of living in a society where everything seems relative, and it is difficult to discover any meaningful truth. It is an intentionally disorienting novel, but that is its appeal.