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Requiem for Locusts cover

Requiem for Locusts is a 2008 Montana Book Award Honor Book!

Dissecting the Ethos of a Neighborhood...


Ever wonder what your neighbors are doing behind closed doors? For insight into how our neighborhoods really function, forget "Desperate Housewives" and go to Wendy Parciakís Locust Street, the focus of her acclaimed new novel, Requiem for Locusts. In most neighborhoods, closed doors and high fences abound. We know nothing, really, about most of the people in our neighborhood. Perhaps we know our next door neighbors, but what about a few doors down, the neighbor you never, ever see and wonder about? Or the people across the street seemingly obsessed with their careers, or the old lady down the block?

In Requiem for Locusts, Parciak uses a mentally ill newcomer to Locust Street as a literary tool which opens up the inner sanctums of the neighborhood. Marzita, whose mental illness reduces her inhibitions, wanders freely through the backyards on Locust Street.

"I am scattered into a million pieces. Little pieces of sand or glass. Sharp-edged knives or swords, like the ones daddy and Uncle Kastor play with. They wonít let me but when I close my hands I cut myself anyway."

A frail, elderly spinster, a neurologist with a painful shyness of women, a career-obsessed couple, a family of circus acrobats, and a teenager craving an escape from her reality are some of the characters sometimes unwillingly caught up in Marzitaís delusional vision of life. Insanity and reality merge as her life spins out of control, ripping down the boundaries separating her neighbors.

"Iíve read few stories which take a very realistic look at a mentally ill person whose whole life is unraveling, and how others react to this" says Parciak, whose sister developed mental illness in late adolescence. "I also wanted to dissect the structure of a contemporary neighborhood." Parciak adds, "The sense of isolation in many neighborhoods is palpable. I believe readers will find much of their own neighborhood — in one way or another — on Locust Street."

Ultimately, Requiem for Locusts is about neighbors forced to confront the chaos in their own lives, prompted by the psychological chaos of one of their own. It is Frostís "good fences make good neighbors" adage transformed into "good fences mask the inevitable connections all neighbors have."

"Most of us want to live where others also live, and yet end up trying to avoid any substantive interaction with others," notes Parciak. "Itís a fascinating dynamic that my book examines via a very unique and troubled character."

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