cover image Golden Delicious

Golden Delicious

Christopher Boucher. Melville House (PRH, dist.), $16.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-61219-510-0

Today's readers are old hands at meta%E2%80%94stories that branch into other stories, stories that acknowledge the reader%E2%80%94but this one ups the ante. Boucher (How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive) suggests that a place can be a text. That place is the town of Appleseed, Mass., and it's a world at risk. Things go bad for Appleseed when bookworms with "print-based" bodies that let them change into endless characters or ideas infest the town, ruining the apple crop. Main character ____, a melancholy kid, pals around with his pet sentence, "I am," and someone named Reader. Given the general weirdness%E2%80%94traffic cones run the town, for instance%E2%80%94actual readers can be forgiven for not realizing right away that Reader is, in fact, a reader, and specifically the reader of this book. When Appleseed spirals into a downturn and ____'s mother takes off to join the Mothers, who patrol Appleseed's perimeter looking for wayward words, the importance of readers/Reader becomes clear. Boucher literalizes the familiar (money is meaning, as in ideas and metaphor), and estranges readers from an act they do all time and are actually doing in that very moment%E2%80%94reading. It's an odd, clever, and thoroughly enjoyable experience. (Apr.)