Meeks is the story of a bachelor whose youth was wasted fighting an undefined enemy in a protracted war. Penniless and without prospects, he must marry or perish as a civil servant (or worse, be put to death):
". . . the official exhortation to pursue one's own happiness or be put to the task of generating happiness for others, or worse-to be not in the picture."
It is also about a park-dwelling, delusional man (name-sake of the state's founder!) who aspires to wearing a policeman's uniform, carrying a gun and defending a state that has never held a place for him.
The setting is a sort of steam-punk dystopia--evoking a cold, minimalist future that in many ways harks back to Victorian ideals and early 19C concerns. The lushly rendered, highly stylized setting serves as a striking contrast to a poverty of human connection that will feel hauntingly familiar to modern readers. The result is an uncanny sense of familiarity and strangeness, as if you have been given the rare opportunity to step out of your life and watch it from afar. The writing is spare and beautiful and highly readable.
This dystopian novel is not about whys, hows or wherefores and is not going to satisfy those readers who like taking things apart in order to see how they work. This is a novel of ideas, yes, but also of gut-wrenching feelings, personal and social failings and, ultimately loss.