Bestselling novelist Octavia Frost has just completed her latest book—a revolutionary novel in which she has rewritten the last chapters of all her previous books, removing clues about her personal life concealed within, especially a horrific tragedy that befell her family years ago.
On her way to deliver the manuscript to her editor, Octavia reads a news crawl in Times Square and learns that her rock-star son, Milo, has been arrested for murder. Though she and Milo haven’t spoken in years—an estrangement stemming from that tragic day—she drops everything to go to him.
The “last chapters” of Octavia’s novel are layered throughout The Nobodies Album—the scattered puzzle pieces to her and Milo’s dark and troubled past. Did she drive her son to murder? Did Milo murder anyone at all? And what exactly happened all those years ago? As the novel builds to a stunning reveal, Octavia must consider how this story will come to a close.
Universally praised for her candid explorations of the human psyche, Parkhurst delivers an emotionally gripping and resonant mystery about a mother and her son, and about the possibility that one can never truly know another person.
I saw Richard III, a play when I was 21 years old. I was in London at the time with my sister. With all the Shakespeare talk along with the British accents, I understood very little of it. In fact, I only remember the scattering of the white and red rose petals at the end. Something about the war of the roses. I was bored throughout. I left the theater yawning. Another girl from our group was deeply affected and and kept talking about the beautiful symbolism.
Phht! Symbolism. Boring.
I saw Richard III again when I was well into my thirties. I couldn't believe how much I had missed the first time.
Back to the book, The Nobodies Album. It takes a certain amount of experience, wisdom, and tragedy to interpret events in a certain way. It takes experience, wisdom, and tragedy for texture to be added to our own lives and meaning to take shape. It takes even more experience, wisdom, and tragedy to accept that endings are what they are based on our choices due to our experiences and how we have interpreted them.
In other words, our lives are one big Rorschach test.
Carolyn Parkhurst offered me a rare glimpse into a brilliant writer's brain. There is constant dialogue, testing, questioning, interpreting and answering. Sometimes the answers were painfully difficult to swallow as they hit so close to home. It is so far from my John Dorian (Scrubs) dialogue I constantly have going inside my head. I'm trying to connect humor. Octavia, the protagonist, is constantly trying to create meaning. The truth is, we are all creatures seeking patterns and predictability.
Octavia is rewriting the ending of all 7 of her published novels. As she narrates her current experience, dropping back to her past to provide a point of reference, it is clear that her stories, as any story, could take many different directions. The last chapter of each novel is intertwined within the book.
Yet I can't help falling back on my desire to create meaning (based on my own experiences) and question if Octavia, with her name taking on the root of the number 8, is symbolic of her 8th novel, the one not published.
Or perhaps it is Pareidolia.
I was going for witty, but I'm afraid I ended up with merely odd. Well, I never said I was good with words. Not ones spoken out loud, anyway.
- Octavia Frost
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