It's the summer of 1994 in suburban Chicago: Forrest Gump is still in theaters, teens are reeling from the recent death of Kurt Cobain, and you can enter a sweepstakes for a spaceship from Jupiter to land in your backyard. Welcome to Margaret Wappler's slightly altered 90s. Everything's pretty much the way you remember it, except for the aliens.
When a flying saucer lands in the Allens' backyard,
family patriarch and environmental activist Ernest is up in arms.
According to the company facilitating the visits, the spaceship is 100
percent non-toxic, and the green sludge it occasionally dumps in their
backyard is totally biodegradable.
As Ernest's panic increases, so do his questions: What are the effects of longterm exposure to the saucer? Why is it really here, flashing and beeping uselessly in the backyard? And why, above all else, is Ernest the only one worrying about it? At Ernest’s suggestion, the family starts logging the spaceship’s daily fits and starts. But the daily log doesn't get them any closer to figuring out the spaceship's comically erratic behavior; instead it becomes the family’s preferred and often pithy communications platform, a humorous foreshadowing of the electronic messaging revolution to come. In fact, Ernest’s wife Cynthia and their children, Alison and Gabe, are less concerned with the saucer, and more worried about their father’s growing paranoia (not to mention their mundane, suburban existences).
In unexpected ways, the Allens are forced to confront the truth about their relationship to the larger world, and what it means to be a part of it. Set before the arrival of the internet, Neon Green will stun, unnerve, and charm readers with its loving depiction of a suburban family living on the cusp of the future.
Praise for Neon Green
"Part historical novel, part alternative history, NEON GREEN captures the suburban-American experience at the cusp of the Internet Age, and asks its readers to consider what unites--and what threatens--a family. Strange yet accessible, goofy yet also, somehow, heartbreaking, this wonderfully original novel made me see everything around me in a new beguiling light: from my own family to the big unknowable sky above me. A debut to be reckoned with.
—Edan Lepucki, author of CALIFORNIA
"NEON GREEN is an extraordinary, inventive literary triumph. Margaret Wappler's breakthrough novel of a family coming to terms with modern life is deftly written, uniquely hilarious, and unexpectedly heartbreaking. Evoking the imaginative pleasures of Lydia Davis, Aimee Bender, and Don DeLillo, NEON GREEN depicts family life, environmentalism, marriage, illness, and spaceships with ingenuity and sophistication. "
—Joe Meno, author of THE GREAT PERHAPS
"The story of an American family's confusion, pain, and joy is given an ingenious new form in Wappler's assured debut. Deeply moving, unsentimentally nostalgic, surreal, and hilarious, her alternate 1990s unravels the curiosities and sufferings that reveal our character and transform our souls. "
—J. Ryan Stradal, author of KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST
"Funny, sad, weird, timely: in NEON GREEN, Wappler mixes up her own distinct cocktail of these into a substantive and affecting debut."
—Aimee Bender, author of THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE
"NEON GREEN is a time capsule: it captures a moment, a slice of recent history, a feeling, a way of life. Wappler writes with humor, warmth, and intelligence. Filled with jewel-like sentences and insights that add up to a rewarding and deeply affecting novel. "
—Charles Yu, author of HOW TO LIVE SAFELY IN A SCIENCE FICTION UNIVERSE