This book is set in the Mojave desert of Southeastern California and spans a few decades with a focus on the 60's and 70's. We are introduced to the area, most notably the three pinnacles, in 1947 when an aircraft engineer believes that the three large rocks are ideal for channelling messages to and from extraterrestrial beings. In the subsequent chapter, we are in present day (2008), and learn that a rock star has fled from LA to the same place (but is staying in a motel) and that a family has a severely autistic child, which is deemed to be a failure by the father of the family. The chapters move along in alternating fashion, with the past interspersed with chapters in 2008. It alternates about the awful story about what happens to Lisa and Jaz (the family with the autistic children) and the development of the cult created by the aerospace engineer in 1947. The common thread are the Pinnacles. Common themes also include missing children, loneliness, technology and chaos.
This book was read when I was on vacation and I found it to be entertaining and diverting. It distracted me from the stresses of work and the craziness that vacation entails when you're traveling with young children. The sub stories encompassed by each chapter were entertaining standing on their own but, when combined into a novel, they created a comprehensive story that was entertaining and wonderful. Kunzru is talented enough to connect all of the dots into a comprehensive story in a way that only authors such as Alice Munro had been able to do in the past.