Simon Jacobs’ debut novel Palaces explores a disturbed punk’s experience in a post-apocalyptically uninhabited world, specifically the mansions of the wealthy, where lavish expense is coupled with a disdain for preservation. The novel’s intentionally confused logistics demand that the reader disregard conventions of time and plot. The first-person narrator, John, is a feverish young drifter who constructs his own narrative arcs in search of true feeling, sometimes at the expense of his partner, Joey, who is addressed throughout as “you.” John and Joey occupy the homes and thus the lives of the rich but even in this surreal, depopulated landscape, are unable to escape the strictures of class: “We’ve had no shortage of luxury bathrooms since we left the city, but the fact remains that we are bodies left to starve in someone else’s finery.”

The novel’s coming-to-awareness of gender and class can be read against Joel Thomas Hynes’ We’ll All Be Burnt in Our Beds Some Night, another story of counterculture and the consequences of systemic power. John’s antiestablishment impulses, at times infused with dark humor, are predominantly guided by a strange sort of déjà vu that amplifies the horror of denial and violence. The tone lingers between nostalgia for the worlds we build and dread of the worlds we inhabit. Palaces is about the desecration of our trust in society and in each other, and the coping mechanisms we invent to live with these losses, because, as John says, “There never was any going home.”

Two Dollar Radio.