For readers of Emma Cline and Jennifer Egan: A beautifully wrought novel on the aftershocks of the heady but dangerous late 1960s and the relationship between trauma and the creative impulse.
Now in his late-sixties, Daniel lives in quiet anonymity in a converted guest cottage in the Hollywood Hills. A legendary artist, he’s known for one seminal work—Thorn Tree—a hulking, welded, scrap metal sculpture that he built in the Mojave desert in the 1970s. The work emerged from tragedy, but building it kept Daniel alive and catapulted him to brief, reluctant fame in the art world.
Daniel is neighbors with Celia, a charismatic but fragile actress. She too experienced youthful fame, hers in a popular television series, but saw her life nearly collapse after a series of bad decisions. Now, a new movie with a notorious director might reignite her career.
A single mother, Celia leaves her young son Dean for weeks at a time with her father, Jack, who stays at her house while she’s on location. Jack and Daniel strike up a tentative friendship as Dean takes to visiting Daniel’s cottage--but something about Jack seems off. Discomfiting, strangely intimate, with flashes of anger balanced by an almost philosophical bent, Jack is not the harmless grandparent he pretends to be.
Weaving the idealism and the darkness of the late 1960s, the glossy surfaces of Los Angeles celebrity today, and thrumming with the sound of the Grateful Dead, the mania of Charles Manson and other cults, and the secrets that both Jack and Daniel have harbored for fifty years, Thorn Tree is an utterly-compelling novel.
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