Two things immediately drew me to The Dream of Doctor Bantam: badass cover art and a glowing blurb from Eileen Myles. Can I mention that she was my professor in college again without being obnoxious?
Jeanne Thornton tells the story of Julie, a seventeen year old with largely absent parents navigating life after her sister, Tabitha, committed suicide by running as fast as she could into an oncoming car. Her primary hangout is Retrograde, a coffee shop next door to a facility rumored to be a cult. Julie becomes involved with one of the cult members, who believe that most people are ‘timebound’, in a pejorative sense, and their doctrine is to live their lives outside the restrictions and limitations of time.
I liked the book a lot but I have to say that it made me feel old because I was super stressed out by Julie’s choices. Chain smoking, lack of parental supervision, drinking, dropping out of high school, coming and going from her house as she pleases—I kept wanting to reach through the pages and shake her mother into action. The internal and external chaos in the book was an excellent representation of teenage confusion. Julie is desperately trying to solve for who she is and throwing every possibility at the wall to see what sticks. I think at seventeen most of us could have related to that.