"review" · concenter · fiction · Lit · mystery · philosophy/criticism · recommend · wondermous

{book} once begun

silence-once-begunSilence Once Begun by Jesse Ball

Pantheon Books, 2014. 232 pages

“The following work of fiction is partially based on fact.”

Over the course of several months, eight people vanish from their homes in the same Japanese town, a single playing card found on each door. Known as the “Narito Disappearances,” the crime has authorities baffled—until a confession appears on the police’s doorstep, signed by Oda Sotatsu, a thread salesman. Sotatsu is arrested, jailed, and interrogated—but he refuses to speak. Even as his parents, brother, and sister come to visit him, even as his execution looms, and even as a young woman named Jito Joo enters his cell, he maintains his vow of silence. Our narrator, a journalist named Jesse Ball, is grappling with mysteries of his own when he becomes fascinated by the case. Why did Sotatsu confess? Why won’t he speak? Who is Jito Joo? As Ball interviews Sotatsu’s family, friends, and jailers, he uncovers a complex story of heartbreak, deceit, honor, and chance.–publisher’s comments

Errol Morris brought more than justice to the wrongly accused when he brought The Thin Blue Line (1988) to the screen. He demonstrated how fiction lies within the justice system and how reality reveals itself in the imaginations of human perception. Both institutions and human beings can be corrupted; the question is whether doubt can lead to a liberating or confining truth. I thought of Errol Morris as I sank into Silence Once Begun, Jesse Ball’s latest novel.

“One has the impression one can know life, actual life, from its simulacrums by the fact that actual life constantly deceives and reveals, and is consistent in doing so” (4).

Jesse Ball, self-proclaimed professor of “lucid dreaming and lying,” exercises his particular gifts with the latter. We have a want to forget that as a gifted storyteller, he is a practiced liar. The heartbreak of increasing solitude and silence experienced in the narrator’s own life is raw enough to cite the provenance of a genuine artifact. “The following work of fiction is partially based on fact,” but what in the work is partial, or impartial? Silence Once Begun invites suspicion. What becomes awkward for the reader is when the suspicion is found directed not toward Ball or a character, but inwardly. Readers who favor romance and/or political activism will find themselves the easiest targets, among other professional prevaricators.

That smooth teller of tales that drew his reader in a single sitting through door after door and haunted them long after the curfew ended, confines the whimsy of his silvery tongue to his own “prefatory material” and Jito Joo. Joo takes on the silkiness of Milton’s Satan and I remain unconvinced that Kakuzo is able to vindicate her. Questions of love’s selfishness and sacrifice deepen the mystery Ball would document. As it is, the fans of Ball’s novels since Samedi the Deafness will be jolted awake by the halting language of concrete explication. Even the stories spun by relatives as a means to explain one another, find sentences short and constantly revisited. The language Ball adopts is not only one familiar to reportage, but translation—and the earnestness of finding the correct expression.

Oda Sotatsu’s mother is fond of telling stories by means of clarification: When talking with the mother, the interviewer notes how “the impression of exactitude remains” (18). He experiences a feeling that what she is saying is true; he sees what she sees before the evidence presents itself, before what she has seen appears (e.g. butterflies). Whether the mother is telling the truth about butterflies is negligent without a strong enough moral imperative. In Silence Once Begun, lives are hanging in the balance.

The interview is seeking someone to speak where Oda Sotatsu would not and now cannot. Once a silence had begun, can the silence ever be broken? The novel ponders how reputations are powerful constructs (29): how we are represented, expressed, speaks for us; it can certainly lie for us. Jito says of role-playing: “Each person chooses his life from all the roles in all the theaters. We are a prisoner and his love. For I am sometimes one and sometimes the other. You are one and then the other” (187). The liberated speak from a place of privilege and the imprisoned the limitation of choice. In a mystery based on mistaken identification, conversations on love and identity are the discourse that bind, and often blind the character and reader both.

“You don’t know me at all, I said, but I have a feeling that you know about something that I know” (Interviewer 163).

How can we truly know the other? We understand that different kinds of knowing exist. As one character after another jockeys for supremacy of knowledge, we test their validity. Jiro claims, “He hadn’t done it, because I believe he hadn’t done it” (45). The sister is an educated one yet distanced; Kakuzo is the architect of the crime and vain; Jito Joo, the most intimate of actresses.

Jesse Ball, the interviewer, is consciously aware of influence. How his ability to capture an image through a lens is affected, is made literal and then figurative when he takes photographs of the prison and other locations. He questions his ability to be objective, and the state of his relationship with an interviewee can be temperamental at best. He finds amusement and delight without anticipation by the reader. Even as it could be argued that “everything is contextual” (41), there is still the phenomena of surprise. Few could demonstrate the art of startling the reader into remembering that not everything can be anticipated nor traced back to an origin like Ball; which is key in a story where explanations are not just obscured, but elusive.

The attempt of the novel reads like Joo’s own: “I believe in discovering the love that exists and then trying to understand it. Not to invent a love and try to make it exist, but to find what does exist, and then to see what it is” (180). A sacrifice exists at the heart of this novel, more than one; and a person, more than one. Interpreting it and their meaning, to see what it is is a marvelous experiment, and a convicting one. At what point in the time-line is the act of invention initiated, because it would be dangerous to mistake Joo for not inventing a love into existence, wouldn’t it? Maybe your reading will disagree. Silence Once Begun interrogates human impulses: what we would remember, and what we would choose to conveniently forget.

If your cups of tea always require coherence in the mystery to be opaque in the end, to invite an explanatory flashback with solid connecting lines rather than perforated, any of Ball’s work will be uncomfortable, but none more than Silence Once Begun. This is not to suggest Ball leaves lazy gaping holes. His work is impressively spare. No, coherence needn’t have a clear answer everything, and Ball’s coherence artfully alludes to the corrupted nature to the human, the memory, the fictions we tell to make sense of things. The mystery is how we can ever pretend to be so very certain—so certain that we can carry through the life-threatening convictions that we do.

Jesse Ball’s provocation can be both frustrating and an absolute delight; which is how I could describe the conclusion. Ball makes the narrative personal and familiar, investing the reader in a summation that is as tidy as the novel will allow while yet demanding its lingering effect. He does not employ Errol Morris’ chilling play button on a tape recording at the end, but he does compel the reader to ask what it is we wanted to believe happened when the world turned upside down, when the expanding silence entered the room and asked us to wonder why.

"review" · concenter · fiction · Lit · recommend · short story · wondermous · young adult lit

{book} the power & in just one body (of work)

Of note: my writing about an excellent short story collection equates to a long post. But I do give you a few paragraphs (up to the asterisks) before ~brief remarks on each of the stories.

The Thing Around Your Neck : a collection of short stories

by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Alfred A Knopf, 2009.

Hardcover, 12 stories. 218 pages. Library loan.

Adichie turns her penetrating eye on not only Nigeria but America, in twelve dazzling stories that explore the ties that bind men and women, parents and children, Africa and the United States. […] Searing and profound, suffused with beauty, sorrow, and longing, these stories map, with Adichie’s signature emotional wisdom, the collision of two cultures and the deeply human struggle to reconcile them. The Thing Around Your Neck is a resounding confirmation of the prodigious literary powers of one of our most essential writers.—publisher’s comments.

Even as a voluntary (and paying) student of literature, I find myself making the mental preparations for a Literary short-story collection. Occasionally, this will mean that I forgo the read at the time, believing I will be more exhausted than pleased by the exercise—because it so often is. The Thing Around Your Neck reads like I am sitting down with a storyteller who is merely intent on relating something about someone they know. I found myself disarmed. The subjects are not easy, but the reading is and its enjoyment is effortless.

In the past few weeks since I finished this collection, I had occasion to read a few different conversations where female authors have said (to the effect): when I write my female characters into difficult situations, I am considering verisimilitude, but just as importantly, I have an aim to demonstrate an empowered female response. Oftentimes, this means changing the script written by popular cultural beliefs. Adichie writes women who are seen questioning and resisting. Many of her female characters do surprising things—not always the easiest in consequence but the unexpected (w/in the cultural responses dictated w/in the story). I am still lingering on “The American Embassy,” which trades in a familiar theme in the collection: human dignity and the cost/risk involved in having a voice.  More than a few stories depict the female desire of another. Read this how you will, but I was drawn to the notion of envy—the sort of appeal that drives the desire to have what another has to positive consequence. This takes us back to demonstrating non-traditional choice-making. If memory serves, the parts of the body, the spirit, the vocations that attract the protagonist are significant, especial to their experience of said desire. Adichie employs eroticism in an enviable way…I’m telling you, her work has a rich eloquence that is both medicinal and sweet.

The majority of the pieces are told by a first person female, but not all. There is a particularly lovely implementation of the female protagonist’s use of second person in two, and a fascinating first person male in another. Adichie situates exchanges of assumptions and generalizations the narrators themselves would find chaffing, but she provides more often than not that voice the reader can respond to with a ‘I know what you mean;’ ‘I am not alone.’ She is both foreign and achingly familiar.

The Thing Around Your Neck is not to be dismissed as “women’s fiction” as there is much to realize about social  & personal situations that go unobserved, let alone considered and discussed. Much of Adichie’s success in provoking such thinking is in how she works with characters, not caricature, sampling representatives or some such didactic alienating force.

___________________________________________

“Cell One” (pp 3-21) finally instills fear and selflessness into the brother of narrator Nnamabia who observes the complicity and enabling actions in the negative consequences of her culture.

We are introduced to structures of privilege and corruption, and of both son and gender preference.

“Imitation” (22-42) wherein resides one of my favorite lines in the book:

“One of the things she’d come to love about America, the abundance of unreasonable hope” (26).

Though pages in, it reflects the tone of the collection. In whom or what may Nkem place her hopes and her happiness. How does one define “happy” (40); the inhabitation of a role set down by whom? The conversation on the female body as a commodity not just prior to marriage but after is beautifully touched upon.

A gorgeous meditation on assimilation; the first, but not the last on this.

“A Private Experience” (43-56) moves in and out of time as two young women of potentially polarizing differences find commonality in a form of sisterhood whilst hemmed in by the violence that surrounds them.

The insight into the culture of Lagos and Nigeria continues; of varying outcomes…

“Ghosts” (57-73) introduces an old professor who runs into someone whom he believed dead. The appearance of a ghost does not alarm him for particular reasons and the meeting spurs further self-reflection.

This is the point where it really struck me that I was having tea with someone, not a paper preparation conference.

“On Monday of Last Week” (74-94) a young woman observes her new home (America) and its inhabitants to whom she is serving as nanny—particularly an affluent father of her helicoptered charge and the artist wife who appears, much to her distraction.

“She had come to understand that American parenting was a juggling of anxieties, and that it came with having too much food: a sated belly gave Americans time to worry that their child might have a rare disease that they had just read about, made them think they had the right to protect their child from disappointment and want and failure. A sated belly gave Americans the luxury of praising themselves for being good parents, as if caring for one’s child were the exception rather than the rule.” (82)

What Kamara comes to understand continues into more than a criticism but an observation of those tensions between maintaining an appearance and reality; of desire and repulsion. Appearances, the making them (e.g. the wife) and creating them (façade) is of enjoyable import in the story.

Different stories make me self-conscious in different ways; and sometimes one will contain all kinds of self-reflective appointments.

“Jumping Monkey Hill” (95-114) is the resort where Ujunwa is attending a writer’s retreat w/ other representatives of their African countries.

Here is one for writers, readers, and cultural studies with questions regarding type casts; authenticity; What is Africa; which Africa?; verisimilitude in fiction; who writes the narrative; the male gaze; the presence of the white foreigner; relevant issues like religious oppression, homosexuality, sexual harassment, oppression, independence. [such are the notes on my page.]

It is within Adichie’s artistry to bring so many voices and conversations together. And to maintain such a personal, individual focus on Ujunwa.

Adichie resists “type” because she knows the person tells the more effective story.

“The Thing Around Your Neck” (115-27) begins with:

“You thought everybody in America had a car and a gun; your uncles and aunts and cousins thought so, too. Right after you won the American visa lottery, they told you: In a month, you will have a big car. Soon, a big house. But don’t buy a gun like those Americans.”

How and where do you assimilate and yet maintain difference: who dictates those things? There is a lot of offers up for the taking, but at what cost? The second person speaking to herself negotiates the liminal spaces between where she was and where she is now, and her difference as individual and other—resisting cliché (normative scripts) and exoticization. The observations on poverty and privilege, the African female and the white male, and the ways some things are the same wherever you go. The struggle of give and take in the relationships written into the story are compelling, as is the courageous narrator. I will leave the title and its appearance in the story to you.

“The American Embassy” (128-41) places us in a detailed setting and the unraveling of the significance of Ugonna’s mother’s long wait in line alone.

This is one that moved me and is still sinking inward—in ways I can articulate and others I cannot. It is a provocative piece. Political causes and beliefs more often than not cost the lives of others, more than one’s own. And what does courage of conviction look like. And how do we grieve and move forward with the knowledge that risk has suddenly afforded us. The word “abandoned” comes to mind, and “home;” as does the notion of woman as cultural keeper of the hearth (tasked by whom?).

“The Shivering” (142-166) The ties that, well, introduce us at the very least. In an exchange of experiences: who is it all about? I’ll share two quotes that hardly work as summary, because as I began a summary, I realize I actually said nothing about it anyway and erased it.

“It wasn’t a crisis of faith. Church suddenly became like Father Christmas, something that you never question when you are a child but when you become an adult you realize that the man in the Father Christmas costume is actually your neighbor from down the street” (152-3).

“He used to make me feel that nothing I said was witty enough or sarcastic enough or smart enough. He was always struggling to be different, even when it didn’t matter. It was as if he was performing his life instead of living his life” (153 emphasis mine).

Adichie proves to be masterful with the titling of her work. And continues to prove diverse enough to write characters who are familiar not because they are always likable or easy.

“The Arrangers of Marriage” are many, from relatives to cultural tradition to pragmatism. Our first person female narrator arrives at her new home in America to begin a new chapter of her life with the husband arranged for her. This is another one of those stories you wish Adichie wasn’t so good with similes and metaphors when describing people. I’m trying to recall if it was this one or an earlier piece with the man whose teeth are likened to mildew. I had to stop then and share with the daughter who looked at me in awe.

I love this story in particular because while there are circumstances beyond the woman’s control, there will be an opportunity when it is not, and then it is she who will make the arrangements.

There is a lot of empowerment in community. A lot of terrible circumstances are brought about via men and women both, but so is wisdom, advice, and a helping hand out.

“Tomorrow is Too Far” (187-197) is the translation of a snake’s name: the echi eteka, who plays a role in the story, but really, tomorrow is too far for the child female protagonist. Both her mother (whom she lives with in the States) and her grandmother (whom she is visiting in Nigeria), prefer/privilege her elder brother. The tension for this “you” narrator is the weight of that cost of waiting (or not) for your turn.

The setting in the climate (literal and figurative) is oppressive. And but for the brother and the male cousin (who is not hierarchically good enough either due to birth placement), the cast is female and this emphasizes women’s complicity in patriarchical oppression—an oppression that does not only hold consequence for the female child.

This one is a must. It is provoking, engaging, and entertaining.

“The Headstrong Historian” (198-218) relays the importance of history, of legacy and heritage, of honoring yet rebelling. There is both a desire and a goodness in keeping record of history and leaving legacies, but some more are best left in memory-story-form. Some histories need not come with us, their performances unhealthy in their repetition.

The story echoes traditional storytelling form, demonstrating the pleasure of certain traditions being handed down and continued in the voices of the younger. The generational inheritances and shifts, the struggle with modernity, the timeless quality of it all; and the desire to preserve and the desire to change centers around the story of Nwamgba until it changes hands with a granddaughter.

It is a great punctuating piece to this powerful and empowering collection.

"review" · fiction · Lit · recommend · wondermous · young adult lit

{book} love

rosie project coverThe Rosie Project

by Graeme Simsion

Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Hardcover, 295 pages. for the older crowd.

I told Sean that I’ve seen nothing but “Must Read” attached to Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Project  as I held up the bright red book. It appeared on a crazy number of “Best of” lists as 2013 was closing. So you’ll not read it, he replied, knowing how contrary I can be. But I said, “I actually am.” (coincidentally proving my contrariness.) And now: I own it! (thank you sweet daughter of mine). If I’d bothered to make a list of favorite reads of 2013 this holiday season, The Rosie Project would have been on it. It is a seriously good time and Don Tillman is the best leading man of the year.

The Rosie Project is, as the publisher trumpets, “a hilarious, feel-good novel.”

Our narrator Don Tillman is “thirty-nine years old, tall , fit, and intelligent, with a relatively high status and above-average income as an associate professor [of genetics at a prestigious University in Melbourne]. Logically, [he] should be attractive to a wide range of women. In the animal kingdom, [he] would succeed in reproducing. However, there is something about [him] that women find unappealing” (3). Don goes on to share an example of a failed date. But while he is left wondering why women find him unappealing, the reader has little trouble at all. And yet, I find it hard to blame him as he laments the lost time and accumulated disappointment. And here lies much of the book’s appeal—Don’s perspective: both his obliviousness and his obsessions with detail.

His project to find a wife, holding on to a tenuous belief that there is a statistical probability of his finding a mate, is amusing. Lovelier is how Rosie’s project to find her biological father mirrors his. Lovelier still how neither are spectacularly “normal.” It is also exciting that Simsion does not place a traditionally acceptable model of marriage in hands of Don’s best friends (only real friends) Gene and Claudia. There is no room for the fallacy of perfect humans and perfect relationships in The Rosie Project.

The novel opens with a particularly funny situation wherein Don is going to give a lecture on Asperger’s, which is a new subject for him as he is covering for Gene. When Claudia asks if the expression seemed familiar to him, he identifies a colleague in the physics department, not himself, as she was so pointedly suggesting. The scene and its conversation is quickly shed as the novel progresses but what it was saying does not ever go away. His difference makes some things difficult for him, but he is not any less valuable or worthwhile or…however we measure a life. And that Don is source of humor, the novel never moves to humiliate him—love does this quite efficiently on its own… No one needs a diagnosis to understand how difficult reading a potential lover can be; or acknowledge how we can sabotage important moments out of fear, or even acute longing.

One of my favorite things about the book, aside from the Asperger’s Lecture, and the Daphnes, is how friendship functions in this romantic comedy—how much love requires it. But what does it look like, what does it do, and how does it affect a person both rationally and no.

The book is so effortless to read. Not in the predictably neat and tidy way, not at all. It is so funny and sweet and smart—incredibly smart. It was never a chore, is quotable whilst in the room with someone, and is requiring of several deep satisfying and exasperating sighs. I may have held my breath a time or two, The Rosie Project is an adventure you’ll not want to miss.

———

of note: a 2013 read.

"review" · concenter · fiction · Lit · philosophy/criticism · recommend · Tales · wondermous

{book} girlchild

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012.

Hardcover, 271 pages. borrowed from Library.

When I’d first heard of Girlchild, I left with the impression that it would be a story set in a harsh landscape with a resilient and quirky young protagonist—ala Susan Patron’s Lucky or Kate DiCamillo’s India Opal. But this is no children’s book. I should have read to the end of this Maureen Corrigan NPR review beforehand where it notes: “Rory endures sexual abuse, the death of loved ones, and everyday invisibility — all without playing for our sympathy.” The sexual abuse she endures is really difficult even without the play on sympathy, and it comes early in the relatively short novel, so plan bedtimes accordingly; especially if such recordings (fictional or otherwise) affect you and you need that time to sleep and not wonder if the nausea will take on an even greater physical manifestation. This is not to say that the author Tupelo Hassman does not handle the events with care. Hassman’s command of language and story is plenty effective with out straying toward any edge of the graphic. And she uses the structure of the story and its narrative styles to move in and away with a beautiful sensitivity to her protagonist (and reader)—and her uses of form, perhaps more importantly, to relay Rory Dawn’s experience. Similarly we see this with the mother’s childhood, having to rely much more on her encoded language and actions.

Girlchild is a novel set in the harsh landscape of a trailer park at the edge Reno, Nevada where a resilient young protagonist lives with her mother near her maternal grandmother. Rory Dawn Hendrix is made unusual by her surroundings in how well read she is, how remarkable her comprehension is, and that she treats the Girl Scout Handbook like a guide for better living. But the story isn’t only about Rory Dawn, but about her mother (Johanna Ruth) and maternal grandmother (Shirley Rose). “I know the stories about Grandma’s failures in the mothering department, and when it comes to Mama I could tell plenty of my own;” but as she observes further down the page, “there is a tenderness that runs quiet but sure in our blood and reveals itself as dependable as bedtime” (69). Rory is her mother’s girlchild, both a dream come true (after 4 boys) and a fear—she doesn’t want for her daughter what she had and has gone through as a girl & woman herself.

Girlchild shows a grit and resourcefulness in the women and in communities who live in oppression and/or poverty, and it does not shy away from criticizing the ideology that holds them there.

“The Girls Scouts and V. White [the caseworker] have one thing in common: they like to play it safe. V. White didn’t ask how far Mama could go, just how far a person like Mama has to go. She was only interested in the shortest distance between Mama being on welfare and earning enough to stay broke without welfare’s help, or better yet, figure out why Mama didn’t stay married just enough to keep off the dole altogether. As far as V. White was concerned, there was no reason for the County to send Mama to college and be made smart when, for less time and less money, she could go to vocational school and be made useful. (163)

Between the mother, Rory and the anthropological observations about the Calle, there is a lot to think about in explaining why so few get out, and how there is enough blame to go around. Another politically charged moment is when Rory has to write a report on the Fourteenth Amendment: Equal Protection of the Law. The librarian (a heroic figure) draws Rory’s attention to landmark legal cases and she settles on one in which she finds true connection: Buck v. Bell (1920s); “Based on [Supreme court Chief Justice Oliver W.] Holmes’ decision, upwards of fifty thousand intellectual defectives were forcibly and legally sterilized before the practice was quietly brought to an end in the 1970s” (173). A decision, the author notes at the end, that has yet to be overturned. The connection is found how Rory and Vivian Buck were of similar age, and the third generation of women who could be construed as feeble-minded and thus inevitably promiscuous, with a sense that their outcomes were dictated by heredity rather than environmental factors. After a rather striking passage on the case, a question is posed:

“Which statements are true according to the passage?

A) Science, governments, and your doctor should be trusted.

B) “Comforting her deep into the night: is a euphemism for sneaking candy.

C) The ugliest phrase used in this passage is “female.”

D) Bad things really do come in threes. (173)

The text, via Rory and many of her fellow characters, push against a sense of resignation regarding their fate, or rather, expected outcomes.

“When I get home I wait until after Mama’s asleep to take my paper out and read it again, the details of Holmes’s decision, of Vivian Buck’s life, how he couldn’t see that the equal protection the Fourteenth Amendment promises applied to Viv and Carrie’s lives, to their futures, that it applied to their bodies too, and how this probably means the Fourteenth Amendment just isn’t going to be enough to count on for the rest of us either. And then I read mrs. Croxton’s notes again, about how the “unfortunate mistakes” made in the case of the Bucks aren’t important enough to overshadow “the victories that have been won for the underprivileged.” Mrs. Croxton wanted pretty pages about how far we’ve come since slavery, not ratty truths about what work awaits us with the other groups still deemed less than human.” (178)

The above “Which statements are true” is indicative of just one type of chapter you can expect in Girlchild. She has very poignant “math-word problems” with multiple choice answers and a spacing with the encouragement to “show your work;” case file reports; a singular sentence; a chapter completely or mostly marked out. Chapters are short and are not linear in sequence, though they begin to hold chronology and segueing connection as the novel continues. The more anthropological pieces are fantastic (like “Funeral Etiquette”) and the sections on “how to earn ______ badge;” the chapter: “Proficiency Badge: Puberty” (222) is a must read.

Really, all of Girlchild is a must-read. Amy Greene of Bloodroot is quoted on the jacket, “I couldn’t stop reading until the heartbreaking but hopeful end, rooting for Rory Dawn Hendrix to make her own destiny.” I did the same, honestly wondering, as the latter pages began to dwindle if Rory, would get away. Did she? It reads like a memoir without the tradition of one. It holds the kind of heartbreak we shouldn’t keep ourselves from experiencing, if not considering. There are parts that are really difficult to bear, some language or action that may startle, and any optimism is hard-won. But the form in which the story of Rory Dawn Hendrix’s youth is translated is not to be missed.

The writing is gorgeous, unfailingly so. Hassman can turn a phrase, she can paint any number of inescapable portraits with a word, sentence, paragraph, or chapter in perfect variance and she stacks them all neatly before she knots the cord around them. And then she lights it. Sometimes clever or genius seems too “literary” or so high-fallutin’ as to be impenetrable. And it cannot be ignored that Ms. Hassman has stellar writing credentials. But Girlchild is accessible. Rory’s mom is a fan of Kerouac, and little wonder if the author isn’t as well.

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman is easily one of my favorite reads this year, and I look forward to owning a copy; maybe two, one to lend; one to make sure N has herself a copy, too, in a few years.

—————————————

Doret’s readerly response at The Happy Nappy Bookseller (where I’d first heard of it, I think).

the NPR review, “Scrappy ‘Girlchild’ Forms A Girl Scout Troop Of One” by Maureen Corrigan link again,  where you can find an excerpt of the novel there, and in which I must add that I do not think the title is “corny” but rather apt when you consider the anthropological tones/stylings and the social implications of having and being a girlchild; that it was a pet name was just a nuance.