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Excerpt from Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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A Novel

by Lydia Millet

Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet X
Dinosaurs by Lydia Millet
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  • First Published:
    Oct 2022, 240 pages

    Aug 2023, 256 pages


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Print Excerpt

Plus her daughter had helped. She liked to make desserts.

Her name was Ardis. The children were Clem and Tom.

Gil said his own name and stiffly shook hands all round, stooping to reach the children. They were awkward. Not used to handshaking. It wasn't a thing, he realized, with kids.

Maybe you weren't supposed to shake hands with them, these days.

Then he accepted the pie. Said thank you and stood there holding it. A man who had received an offering.

Was he required to ask them in? He thought not. The kids wouldn't want to hang around.

"We won't keep you," said Ardis.

He was supposed to utter a protest, manners dictated. But his lips didn't move.

"Thank you again," he said finally. "It looks delicious. This is very kind. It should have been the other way around—I should have thought of it myself. Brought you flowers, or something. Not used to the neighborhood yet. I got here recently, too."

"Not at all! Honestly. We just needed a project."

"Well. I appreciate it." Another person would have asked questions. As soon as they were gone, he'd think of some.

For now, nothing occurred to him. He was a deer in the headlights.

"You have a lovely home," he ventured.

"Oh! Yes. So do you."

That was established now—they both had lovely homes. They'd bought them with money.

The children turned to go, and he reached out to put the pie down on a ledge. To allow him to shut the door.

Ardis started to follow them, then swiveled and looked back at him. Smiled with a new animation—as if, having performed the small talk, she was released into the real.

"When we decided to get the place—I mean, I fell in love with it, so—but I did worry," she said. "About the glass wall. I thought, wow, whoever lives next door is going to have a human sh tank to look at. There used to be this tinting on it, to make it more one-way? But over the years it faded, I guess. It's this specialty rm that does the re-tinting, and they have a long waiting list. I didn't know how long, at rst. And with the screens up, after a while, I start to feel claustrophobic. So I just wanted to say, for now, I hope it's not too annoying. Our fish-tank reality show. Over there."

He struggled to find the right words.

"Yeah, I've—I try not to stare. On purpose. But it's kind of—it's the landscape there is. I just look out. And then I feel like a Peeping Tom."

Behind his mother, Tom glanced up. Summoned.

"Oh—sorry. An expression." He wanted to kick himself. Right off the bat, he was introducing the idea of perverts.

Nice. Coming from the bachelor next door.

"Of course, anyone would," Ardis reassured him. Nodded in understanding. "Anyone would feel that way."

"Last year, when I bought this house, I was back East. I found it online. I'd never visited. I did look at the satellite view. But I didn't really look at the other houses."

"You had no idea you'd have to be a voyeur."

But she smiled again. Sincere.

"Well. I'll try not to be one," he said. He felt sheepish.

"Forget it!" said Ardis. Threw her hands up. "It's not your fault. You should look where you want to. Put your eyes anywhere! When you're inside your own house. You have to be free!"

She had a certain exuberance. As though anything was possible. And she had nothing to hide.

Excerpted from Dinosaurs: A Novel by Lydia Millet. Copyright © 2022 by Lydia Millet. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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