Paradise Lost, with termites

Joshua Mohr’s second novel has three unreliable and emotionally unstable narrators: Mired is literally mired in emotional failures; her boyfriend Derek might be infested with termites; and Derek’s brother, Frank, completes the guilt-wracked, depressed ménage. Termite Parade centers on Mired’s trip down the stairs. Derek pushed her, Frank helped clean up and Mired thinks she fell while in one of her frequent drunken stupors. It’s not unremittingly grim; like Mohr’s first novel Some Things That Meant the World to Me, there’s a glimmer of humanity to balance the carnage. The language used by this trio of misfits to describe life on the mean streets (or their own memories) is rich and full. Mohr writes like John Milton living in a garbage dump, and always infuses a tiny thread of what might be hope. It’s enough to keep readers hanging on even as the characters consider letting go.