It probably happens to everyone: unread books pile up, higher, and still higher, ever higher, in some corner. As the tower grows taller, the books on the bottom never rise, because their purpose has changed—they are no longer meant to be read; they are solely the book-tower base. My copy of The Children’s Hospital by Chris Adrian had long suffered the fate of the bottom book, until I recently fished it out for a vacation.
To simply call The Children’s Hospital strange, would be to underestimate it. To not comment upon it, however, would be misleading. It gives nothing away to say that Earth suffers an apocalyptic flood; seven miles of water pour down from the skies and covering everything. Nothing exists anymore; no life, except for a floating children’s hospital, protected by angels.
What anchors this floating world is it language: controlled and lyrical, never outlandish. Adrian, writer, physician, and divinity school student has a firm grasp on his story. It’s a fable with a moral base (remember—Adrian went to Harvard Divinity). Adrian is reaching for the heights, not just trying to entertain you. It falters here and there, but mostly it soars. If Children’s Hospital is at the bottom of your book pile, pull it out. Plenty of outer books deserve the bottom-book fate, not The Children’s Hospital.
Bio: Meakin Armstrong is Guernica’s fiction editor. Read his Guernica blog entries “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/. Read his last recommendation “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1160/staff_pick_meakin_armstrong_1/.