“‘You don’t know my father.’”
He threw up his hands.
‘I sometimes think I don’t know you, so who’s to say?’”

— Nafkote Tamirat, The Parking Lot Attendant


“You think that finding the answer to this is gonna restore the path of your own life. But how can it possibly do that if you’ve lost yourself along the way?”

— Eric Olson, Wormwood


Nafkote Tamirat’s first novel and Errol Morris’ new docuseries show us that we don’t really know what we want, we just think we do. Sure, the storylines are so vaguely grandiose at first that you have trouble latching on, but they eventually unfold in haste, albeit leaving chasms behind.

The pairing also explores:

  • Fragmentary frustration and vaporous intrigue
  • Tight-lipped influencers
  • The fading presence of a father and its repercussions
  • Obliterating ideals of citizenship, nationalism, freedom, truth, privacy, and knowledge
  • Biblical allusions as red herrings
  • Clamoring for facts amid political dealings
  • Monomaniacal obsessions that deter personal successes
  • Towering authority figures tinkering with the rest of humanity
  • The fabrication and subsequent breakdown of foreign relations
  • Dubious “official” reports
  • Perpetually asking the wrong questions

This combo is very much saying something about the past but equally about the present state of the world and where it appears to be headed. How chasing facts can prove meaningless but can also reveal existing infrastructures to implode and rebuild without bureaucracy or misused authority.

After consuming these two, you might throw up your hands and say, “Now what?!” And that, though disconcerting, seems to be the point.