What can you say about the future?
If it’s anything like Louise Erdrich’s “Future Home Of The Living God,” it feels like a bad nightmare you never really wake up from — a long, rambling, confusing dream with bizarre vivid imagery like a rug of disgusting brown rats gnawing through a white plastic trash bag to get at the remains of a bloody placenta from a stillbirth.
The future — and the past — is vaguely explained as “a miracle”: a time when “evolution stops” or when “our world is running backwards. Or forward. Or maybe sideways, in a way as yet ungrasped.”
Nobody can explain why it stopped snowing or why miscarriages and stillbirths are rising or how advances in medicine and technology have devolved so much that something as natural as pregnancy becomes a leading cause of death again for the women involved.
But that change in order has made it especially dangerous to be pregnant.
Pregnant women, like the book’s first-person “preggerpot” narrator Cedar Hawk Songmaker, are fugitives, inevitably rounded up by a “Big Mother” police state that harnesses pregnant women and their children in prison cells for observation in a pitch to save humanity.
The survival rate for pregnant women and their offspring isn’t good, your mother tells you. And your mother fears that you might be growing abnormal features inside her belly. But she loves you even if you might be a monster and wants to let you know what the future past was like.
For one: it doesn’t make much sense. You hear snippets of conversation: talk of women conscripted to bare children. People disappearing and reappearing and disappearing again without transition. It feels disjointed as if you were drugged or floating or submerged in water — and perhaps you are.
After all, you, the reader to whom this book is addressed, is the unborn baby inside Cedar’s womb. You’re busy growing fingernails and toes and whatever else babies do while your mama, Cedar, spends her days writing diary entries she hopes you’ll read one day. You’ll be the next living god, if you live.