Oct 232015

cover for Amanda Downum's Dreams of Shreds and TattersNew York Times: In Amanda Downum’s novel DREAMS OF SHREDS AND TATTERS, Liz Drake is a young woman living on the East Coast with her devoted boyfriend, whom she seems a bit ambivalent about ­ which probably explains her rather casual attitude toward him, a casualness that extends to other things as well.

One thing she’s not casual about, however, is her psychic connection to Blake Enderly. When Liz has an intuition, she is absolutely certain that her friend Blake, who lives across the continent and has recently gone missing, is in trouble, so she crosses the country, boyfriend in tow, to help find him. The connection between the two is never fully, or even partially, explained ­ it seems ambiguously metaphorical, a symbol of the fervent tribal bonds of postadolescent friendship, and on that level it does have some resonance. Similarly, the connections between Liz and her other friends are more asserted than earned ­ as the story shifts perspectives, many characters feel like profiles or postures more than fleshy humans, an effect that may be symptomatic or intentional on Downum’s part, or both.

There are hints at a deeper story here, one of drugs and addiction, about getting lost and the depths to which you can go to save your friends. And there are moments of promise, in which Downum successfully blurs the boundary between reality and fantasy until the narrative takes on a dreamlike fluidity, resulting in the freedom of possibility, of real surprise.