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The Shimmering State

A Novel

“Cinematic, dreamlike, at times brutal yet poignant.” —Frances Cha, author of If I Had Your Face

“Meredith Westgate has an extraordinary ear, not only for the stories we tell ourselves in order to live, but for the ways that we endlessly revise them to suit the new selves we continue to construct.” —Adam Wilson, author of Sensation Machines

A luminous literary debut following two patients in recovery after an experimental memory drug warps their lives.

Lucien moves to Los Angeles to be with his grandmother as she undergoes an experimental memory treatment for Alzheimer’s using a new drug, Memoroxin. An emerging photographer, he’s also running from the sudden death of his mother, a well-known artist whose legacy haunts him even far from New York.

Sophie has just landed the lead in the upcoming performance of La Sylphide with the Los Angeles Ballet. She still waitresses during her off-hours at the Chateau Marmont, witnessing the recreational use of Memoroxin—or Mem—among the Hollywood elite.

When Lucien and Sophie meet at the Center, founded by the ambitious yet conflicted Dr. Angelica Sloane to treat patients who’ve abused Mem, they have no memory of how they got there—or why they feel so inexplicably drawn to one another. Is it attraction, or something they cannot remember from “before”?

Set in a city that seems to have no memory of its own, The Shimmering State is a graceful meditation on the power of story and its creation. It masterfully explores memory and how it can elude us, trap us, or even set us free.

Photograph by Jac Martinez

Meredith Westgate grew up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and holds an MFA in fiction from The New School. The Shimmering State is her first novel.

“Meredith Westgate’s prose strikes the right kind of balance when it comes to literary writing: it’s lush and dreamy, yet emotionally sharp and poignant. She uses speculative elements to examine memory as a commodity. Yet, interstitial, mundane scenes—sitting through L.A. traffic, entering mid-conversation at a party, hatefully waiting for your order of kale noodles—are also transformed into thought-provoking moments. I read Meredith’s examination of our obsession with “forever”—in social media and, in her world, in memory, and how we do the strangest things to maintain that lie, and I just think: Meredith gets it. She totally gets it.

Like the characters desperate to lose themselves in other people’s memories, you won’t want to leave The Shimmering State until you’ve run out of pages.”

—Loan L., Editor, on The Shimmering State

"Who are we without our memories? Who might we be if we could relive someone else's? Meredith Westgate's captivating first novel wrestles with these existential questions without sacrificing her characters' distinctive and emotional essences. An impressive, unsettling, and surprisingly romantic debut." —HELEN SCHULMAN, author of Come With Me

The Shimmering State is a slick, LA-set gel-cap, easily digestible, where memories and trauma are wiped away, though their imprints remain. At a rejuvenation center, a photographer and a dancer let their old selves go—every last unwanted memory—while out in the world, strangers’ memories are available for consumption in pill form. A classic tale of artists trying to make it in LA flipped on its head.” —KATIE M. FLYNN, author of The Companions

“Cinematic, dreamlike, at times brutal yet poignant. The premise of this new memory drug is tantalizing, and the storylines that unfold from the abuse of it are compelling.” —FRANCES CHA, author of If I Had Your Face

“Contemplative and wonderfully evocative. Finishing The Shimmering State is like waking from a dream, where you re-enter the world with fresh eyes and wonder at the frailty of your own memories.” —JESSICA CHIARELLA, author of And Again and The Lost Girls 

"Like an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the #MeToo era, The Shimmering State is a riveting, nuanced, and ultimately haunting meditation on the triangular relationship between sense, memory, and identity. There must be something in the California air because, like Joan Didion, Meredith Westgate has an extraordinary ear, not only for the stories we tell ourselves in order to live, but for the ways that we endlessly revise them to suit the new selves we continue to construct.” —ADAM WILSON, author of Sensation Machines 

“Westgate’s novel does what the absolute best books do—it makes you experience the world so differently. Who are we? Are we our memories? And if so, how do we know what memories are true and what might be manipulated? Moving, astounding, and totally unsettling. But also, as fascinating as memory itself.” —CAROLINE LEAVITT, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and With or Without You