Joshua Furst's first novel, The Sabotage Café, begins as teenager Cheryl packs her belongings (discman, cigarettes, Tori Amos T-shirt), leaving her home in the Minnesota suburbs, and her schizophrenic mom, to squat in an abandoned café in Dinkytown with a group of young anarchists. What follows is a dark tale, told through the perspective of Julia, Cheryl's mentally ill mother, who believes that the voices in her head grant her a clairvoyance that enables her to maintain a connection with her daughter. Cheryl's adventures are roughfilled with drugs, sex, anger, and animal abuse as the teens she befriends struggle to reject capitalist society. Though this is a gruesome tale that sometimes struggles to articulate itself completely (much like its characters), it is a strong first novel (Furst's short-story collection, Short People, also received high marks), and demonstrates a remarkable ability to write from youthful perspectives as well as from voices and experiences well outside of the author's own.
Wed., Sept. 19, 7 p.m.