The Lede to Our Undoing entails a search for love that ends in an untimely death, which is to say it's a story fundamentally about trauma. The narrator of the tale is Molly, companion to the protagonist, Jake, a working-class youth to whom she was tethered for many years. Molly offers an update on Scott Fitzgerald's framing of the American dream in The Great Gatsby, a work that simultaneously helped establish the dream and detailed its failures. A century on, Molly implies that failures persist. The Lede tracks a desire to find meaning, though the effort is challenged by attitudes that she links to a kind of religious orthodoxy.


Molly's an observer akin to Nick Carraway, there on the sidelines, but unlike him she's relegated to silence in the culture. Existing both in- and outside the usual signifying economy, her status as Other confers on her the ability to view people not as types but individuals. Speaking from below, literally, informs her expectations of those around her: basic kindness and caring; a sense of responsibility not just for herself but all sentient beings, as well as the planet.






September, 2023


Kindle $9.99



Donald Mengay

The Lede to Our Undoing