Let Them Whimper, by K. Enterante, is a dark comedy taking place on the eve of a potential apocalypse.
President Mary Mangrove’s AI Police State has divided the United States into partisan red, white, and blue zones, threatened nuclear annihilation, and ushered in a plague-like invasion of intelligent parasites with a mysterious agenda. Is this the end of the world?
That depends on six unlikely individuals: Don Philly, hack writer and erroneously selected messiah of a doomsday cult; Gary Mustafa, high school principal and secret cyberbully, oddly obsessed with helium balloons; Yew, a psychedelic therapist known to consume the ashes of her dead brother; and Love, Yew’s ex-girlfriend, a former reality TV star and government hacker. The true heart of Let Them Whimper, however, belongs to the Taphor brothers: Trent, an antisocial park ranger with psychotic tendencies, and Calvin, his sweet-natured twin brother with Down Syndrome.
As their lives intersect in unexpected ways, can Don, Gary, Yew, and Love supersede their own trauma long enough to save the world? Or will they become sacrificial lambs in President Mangrove’s Armageddon? And will Trent’s violence be the undoing of everything, or will fraternal affection save the day?
Enterante’s muscular prose and stylish literary passages would be at home in a T.C. Boyle novel. But while they are exhilarating to read, they often serve to obscure the plot and key character motivations. It’s not totally clear what’s happening at first, and the novel’s culmination provides only incomplete answers to some questions.
Yet, Let Them Whimper is inexplicably enjoyable. Despite the characters’ fetishes and quirks, they are irresistibly relatable, likable for their vulnerability and human frailties. Because of Enterante’s uncanny ability to convey authentic feelings, Let Them Whimper hits home.
Despite the plot’s incomprehensibility at times, it’s hard not to be moved by this novel in the end.