* The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara

The People in the Trees is a story of a pedophile physician who, by chance, accompanies an anthropologist on a trip to a fictional South Pacific island to study its people, untouched by civilization, and who seem to have found a fountain of youth. This long story is told as an artfully arranged autobiography, complete with convincing, fake footnotes by the pretend publisher and friend, that winds painfully slowly through the exploration of the island before moving to his life as a scientist and adoptive father to dozens of the islanders. The best part of the book, for me, was the brief interlude of family life with a large family, which sounded less contrived than the fake ethnography essays — but still seems highly unlikely, since it’s hard to imagine how a single parent of dozens of children, with or without a housekeeper, can function even marginally, especially with the work demands and travels thrust upon a prominent scientist. Yes, the idea that the islanders somehow found a way to live forever, but at the cost of Alzheimer’s for all, is interesting, but I found the fake science and fake anthropology distracting and tedious, much as I thought was the case in State of Wonder, with a similar theme.

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