Estranger begins with a memoirist’s problem—the suppressed story of a grandfather’s death on the south side of Chicago in 1984—but Estranger is no memoir. Estranger reexamines and reinvents genre, as one family’s story enters an intricate constellation of subjects: animal intelligence, museum architecture, films by Werner Herzog and Michael Haneke and Hou Hsiao Hsien, Camus’ The Stranger, Thoreau’s journals, the work of artists Kara Walker and Cy Twombley. In the tradition of writers such as W.G. Sebald, Michael Ondaatje, and Rebecca Solnit, Erik Anderson’s second book blends essay and invention into an exploration of vulnerability and detachment, a book that pushes against the limits of both everyday thought and literary form. The result is a work of restless, precise intelligence and disquieting originality.