Hey, you’re a fairly decent person stuck working a shit job but doing your goddamndest to eke out a life worth living. However, you find, more often than not, that existence under modern capitalism feels suffocating, crushing. Other people are difficult to relate to and largely incomprehensible. Your worklife ranges from denigrating to soul-rending. Bills pile up in spite of your spartan lifestyle. You take on a second job, maybe a third. You watch Seinfeld reruns with a homeless person. You routinely contemplate suicide. Well, Marigold by Troy James Weaver is the novella for you.
It’s maybe more a mirror than a book, so brace yourself.
Marigold is the story of a “thirty-something floral salesman” struggling to cope with the sheer horror of everyday life. For many, I’m sure, the story will be as relatable as it is bleak. It is intensely uncomfortable, absurd, and beautiful. It is emotionally devastating and full of existential dread. It is the absolute best of contemporary literary fiction.
Marigold is written as a series of short vignettes that range from a few lines to a few pages. This makes the novella an extremely easy read, despite the fragmentary nature of the narrative. Troy James Weaver, more than any author I can think of, accurately captures the rhythm of modern existence through his writing. Yet, at the same time, his prose tends to communicate a dreary, dreamlike quality, which in the past has led reviewers to compare his work (particularly, his novel Visions) to Harmony Korine’s films. I think the reference is warranted in regard to both Visions and Marigold. That said, for me, Marigold called to mind more the writings of Charles Bukowski and Sam Pink (there’s even a passing Bukowski reference early in the novella). But in my honest opinion, Troy James Weaver brings a level of seriousness to the table that neither Bukowski or Pink ever conveyed. Don’t get me wrong, I love Bukowski and Pink. Troy James Weaver, though, just seems to be doing something a little more true-to-life, a little more visceral.
If you’re a real person, you most certainly understand a few things. Our society is shit. Our economy is a massive human meat grinder. Most contemporary literary fiction is utterly insufferable.
Troy James Weaver’s Marigold, however, is exactly what the world needs right now. It is a bittersweet antidote to all that ails us in this miserable human moment.