by Tony C. (Parkville, MD): “Dinosaurs” by Lydia Millett should fire its PR team because it makes the story sound aimless, yet it hooked me immediately. A gentleman walks from New York to Phoenix (you read that correctly) and starts anew after a failed relationship. Our protagonist, Gil, has a lot of money and has the upward mobility and flexibility to move across the country on a whim. He develops a bond/obsession with the family in the glass house next door. Think “Little Fires Everywhere,” not “Magnolia”.

The title pertains to Gil’s bird-watching and often ponders how some evolved into birds while others disappeared. He “people-watches” similarly and feels equally detached from their interactions. Thoughts of the family next door consume him. We find Gil very intriguing, as he has accumulated wealth and seems to have a knack for giving advice and helping others. His own life appears to hinder him the most, however.

Like “Little Fires Everywhere,” character development occurs so gradually that you will care about what happens to Gil before you realize why, partly because so much of his energy goes into helping others with their problems. I think that the author’s purpose, in part, is to show what someone would do if finances, time, space, and familial responsibilities were not obstacles. Who would you be in that situation, and what would change? What priorities would you have?

We do not learn much about Gil’s family background until halfway through the book. Many events shaped who he was and enabled him to up and abandon the life that he had. His ex said that he “did nothing” despite his extensive volunteering. The author, therefore, has a lot to say about altruism and trust, as the recipients of Gil’s philanthropy and kindness often respond in such a way that would make lesser people give up on helping others.

I gave thanks to the advertisers because the story was engaging but lacked a genre; therefore, I had no idea what to expect from page to page. Gil floated in and out of so many lives and learned about humanity that way. If you like character studies, look no further than this work. I understand if it is not to everyone’s taste since it does not fit into any little boxes. I could not wait to pick it up again and see where it would take me next.