I like the rain. I want to have a spring bookworming rain party full out with wellies—but not those Hunter Boots; absolutely not—, with yummy airy things like puffed pastries, meringues, mini fluffy cheese cakes, mousse dessert, macaroon, biscuits, crepe, and Earl Grey tea, definitely Earl Grey tea. and Tillandsia. We'd have lots of "air plants". Lots! And We'd read, but not anything structured. We'd bring books, trade books, read out-loud, pass books around between sentences and paragraphs. We'd leave with books we hadn't discovered.
I like books like I like my Jazz; euphoric, dangerous, occasionally a bit manic, sorrowful, bleak, raging, mood-incongruent, mournful, unforgivingly ragged, symbolic in a quiet way, warm apple pie for the soul. Give me a Plath style. Yōko Ogawa, M. Roach,
Criteria: Not rated on likability of characters. Not objective. I like Moxie Soda; chances are you don't.
time spent in that before bed reading slot:
5-until blurry eye 4-Later than I intended, but I still kept to my extended, extended reading time 3-I really should have been to bed an hour ago 2-customary 30 minutes. 1-book. side table. eyes closed.
How are common themes handled?
5-With an aesthetic that repurposes everyday themes into something fresh. Think of Hole Celebrity Skin covered by Cat Power 4-there is a comfortable air of familiarly.
3-Deja Vu 2. No deviation from its mates 1. Devastatingly trite, redundant, and stale.
Where would you keep it post-reading?
5-Next to my bed. 4-it's the center piece of my favorite bookshelf 3. On my other favorite bookshelf, but it's a bit dusty over their 2-Great cheap bookends 1-It never made it out of the box marked 'moving'.
5- Where is my teddy bear? Emotional-hangover 4- If I wasn't so emotionally stunted I'd cry. 3. Did James Cameron co-wrote this? Artfully contrived. 2- calculative emotional manipulation. This was literally written by James Cameron.1- I…feel…..nothing.
Mechanics (plot structure, voice, presentation, word choice, sentence structure, characters, writing style, pacing, and consistency):
5-Chanel 4-Prada 3-J-Crew 2-Gap 1-Old Navy
You rise up like 'Norcturn number 2 in E flat', but your notes, they don't often collide in a clear constellation. Sometimes they are shaky, at other times distorted, like I had too much to drink before gazing into the stars.
You saved yourself, properly, with wondrous and simple prose. Examples:
When you are sitting on a three-legged stool and you've kicked out all three legs, but you're still sitting upright, must you assume that you're so good, you levitate? Or must you assume that you were sitting on the ground all along?
"Sunny imagined the house falling apart, with her as the fault line. Maybe with Maxon in space, the house had given up on maintaining appearances. Maybe it would crumble into the earth without him, without the person standing in the husband spot. Everything changes, everything falls: Jenny's husband, rockets to the moon, the wall containing the pantry."
"But no sound. A human grows and fades in the blackness and silence inside its skin. Sunny had come up bald from the cradle, and stayed bald through- out her life. She had been born at some point, and at some point in the future she would die. What happened in between was one long, hairless episode."
Do you understand? this is humanness at its most broken down, residual state. This is not the flowery, courageous "fight fight fight!", that we see all to many times in 'I am difference' themed novels.... because this really isn't about baldness, its about baldness and its effect on lives. It still fits the mold though, of denying, mourning, embracing, seen in cancer, HIV, as well as other similarly themed novels. HOWEVER, This is the raw, emotional swan-dive into the core of it; the underside of affliction.
Her life. which contains a narrative she has created for herself, her son, her husband, her future son that floats in her belly, her friends, as well as onlookers (neighbors etc). All these things must slowly collapse, or all together rupture, in order to recreate Sunny; Sunny with baldness.
of course, as in life, all these things are interwoven in a multi-systematic and delicate spider web. This web is pulled to far apart for Sunny, and she reacts calmly at first, but like a kettle on the stove it boils over, and her emotions collide with personal needs (both of hers and her husbands.... of dearest me did I not mention it HAS A ROCKET MAN! in the story line.. more on that later). I think, to a certain extend this rapid change, which people may confuse (or may not) with pacing issues, mimics life. When we hide ourselves, and this is exposed we tend to run fast to this new formulation of ourselves; the one we have been hiding, so sacredly under a tight fitted veil. This adolescences here and cringe a bit.
Characters interplay off one another like pin-balls in a pin-ball machine. they rocket off one another unpredictably, and their response to Sunny's physical state are both reactionary, and are starkly different compared to her previous persona. She is, like superman without his cape, a bewilderment. No one wants to believe that she is, like superman without his cape, the same person, with the same traits, the same motivations, the same cares, the same needs, and the same ROCKET MAN HUSBAND.
So husband! a rocket man, or astronaut, is brilliant, above brilliant, and is slightly autistic, or that's how the novel wants the reader to conclude. He is just super smart, super emotionally closed off, and lacks the basic tenants of social engineering. He is central to this story because, as Sunny find out, he is important to life on earth in some very important, specific ways. He is also central because he is a key, NO MORE THAN A KEY, he is really really important to her self-discovery; because after-all did Maxon ever hide who he was?
So I rave for who knows how many characters, yet a 3.5? Jason Leathers what is wrong with you? Well, in all its wonderfulness. The ending for one gave me that earning that Fault in our Stars did (and this is all I will say. this is not a spoiler review, kiddos). It differentiates itself from any book that I have read in the last, err two years, in both its intelligence and its unique devices. But is that all the baldness serves? is it just a replacement for the noun cancer? perhaps, and this is what troubles me. Is her ROCKET HUSBAND just another device used to distract us from characters that may not develop to their potential? also, perhaps. but the storyline is so finely tuned that it sort of, kind of, excuses these things. So, why the 3.5. Well its my own self-importance, ignorance and hopefulness that pushed me to lower the score from a 4 to a 3.5. I hope. Lydia Netzer, that you will produce more work of equal noteworthiness and of equal originality. I beg of you, plead with you.... do not fall down the Karen Russell hole. it's lonely down there. So get your momentum. galvanize your creativity and inner strength, and launch another brilliant piece. and if you do find yourself falling down that hole, unlike with Karen, I'll offer a hand, supporting the idea that you are only stumbling along the way and your NEXT NEXT novel will be as delightful as Shine Shine Shine (IE, you get a pass, but only one). Oh fuck it. What am I talking about you? You are a solid four. A perfect example of a solid, unwavering 4.0.