Let the Willows Weep by Sherry Parnell

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With her voice long hardened from smoking Kent cigarettes, she spat out commands and insults that tore at your heart. I guess my father left before there was nothing left of his.

Children are victims of their parents circumstances, more often than not. The leaving between their parents feels more like abandonment of them, particularly when left behind with the domineering person one parent fled. I love a good southern fiction, and the willows will weep for Birddog Harlin, whose own mother has endured a rage that hardened her when her own father fled her mother’s meanness long ago. A slamming door echoes through the decades, turning a little girl into a hard woman who doesn’t have empathy for her own child, Birddog.

Birddog is nothing but a disappointment to her mother, protected by her beloved older brother Denny ( who seems to give the only scrap of niceness in her life), more often than not she is dodging her  rival, other brother Caul’s inborn meanness. Naturally the boys can do no wrong; the sun rises upon their shoulders, Denny’s in particular. Birddog adds to her mothers worries, fighting with boys, often covered in mud, her messiness the reason her mother can’t invite respectable ladies over for tea. Nothing like her beautiful mother, who her father admires so, despite her disappointment with the meager life his job as a miner gives them. Certainly not the low down job she ever wants her boys to do. Her adult life is just as tough as her youth was, slaving all day with chores, feeding her family, raising an impossible, disobedient, little girl are just some of the complaints that fill the air between she and her husband. Birddog knows her father feels shamed by her mother, but at some point her rage will always turn to her instead. When he defends his daughter Birddog it only strengthens her wrath.

Her mother wants nothing more than to enjoy tea with the ‘refined ladies’ of the town, just another thing a miner’s pay will never afford her. Worse, the gossip she is positive her shameless daughter inspires with her unladylike behavior makes that an impossibility. Birddog knows the truth of how things stand, as well as her father does. That just they don’t even exist in the eyes of polite society. If not for Daddy’s intervention, life would be nothing but darkness. Mother’s desire for better makes it impossible to feel and see just how much her husband adores her, and after a tragic turn of events, it’s too late to change things.

Weighted down by a deep blanket of grief, the children now have to step into adult decisions to keep the family afloat. Choices narrow for Denny as steps into his father’s shoes, Birddog’s mother is still jealous of the bond she had with her father, and a parting gift seals the distance between them. Caul comes into his own and seems to sail further from them, everything changes and mother fears all her children leaving. On the same breath, afraid of being left alone, she rips into Birddog- who still can’t live up to the sort of daughter she desires. Laziness won’t be tolerated, and soon Birddog is forced to take a job working for Ms. Tarmar who will teach her more than sewing, share her wisdom with her and have more room for compassion than her own mother.

Love finds her older brother Denny, and it finds Birddog too. Nothing is more doomed than forbidden love, as she will soon learn when she meets a caretaker named Samuel and his sweet, childlike brother Diggs. If only one could love away from the eyes of their ‘own kind’. This is another shame she’ll bring upon her family, and no one will forgive it. For a time, this man will open her eyes and heart to genuine love and kindness. But as he tells her, “there ain’t no place for that kind of love in this kind of world.” They don’t know how true his words are, and what love will cost both of them, body and soul.

This is how people become hardened, the world will beat you down, if you don’t know how to rise. No one escapes the pain loving brings, and maybe Birddog isn’t so different from her mother after-all.

Let the Willows Weep is about poverty, love, intolerance, shame, racism and family dysfunction. Rage is a circle that even the wisest who wish to escape can become trapped in. How is one to hope when life just keeps bringing you nothing but grief and loss? Love takes such strange shapes, it gives and takes indiscriminately in this sad tale. For those who love southern fiction with enough grit to make your eyes water.

Published October 2019

 

 

Coming Up For Air by Sarah Leipciger

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Maybe life could be like this, like a finger broken and never treated, healed but crooked. Or a leg. You could walk with a limp forever. You could get used to anything.

Can we truly get used to anything? To a life spent craving the taste of air, as you fight your own lungs to stay alive? Can you get used to a quiet place when you crave the city, noise? Will you ever get used to the absence of your greatest treasure, as it slipped away one quiet brutal day? Does being an unwanted child, under the charity of your ‘keeper’ until your free to earn your own keep as a lady’s companion, ever becomes as natural as breathing? What happens if you discover even this freedom can be weighted, and water so welcoming? The novel opens with a drowning death and it is a passing that echoes all throughout history.

This novel takes the true story of L’Inconnue de la Seine (the unknown woman of the Seine)  dragged out of the river Seine in Paris around the 1880’s, and breathes life back into by creating a backstory for the mysterious lady. The dead woman’s face was said to be so beautiful that a death mask was made. This sweet face went on to become popular in the art scene serving as a muse for artists and writers. Later, she is of interest to men of science and medicine as well. The mask having a much longer life than the woman behind it, almost begs her story to be told. How does this unfortunate young woman intertwine with the other characters within the story? Through love, loss, illness, desire, grief, hope, and science. How does a Norwegian toy-maker find himself inventing something life altering for future generations on the tide of his grief? Why does he matter so much or his memories?

Leipciger writes about the many faces of love, and not all of them are romantic. The biggest pain in the heart can be for a child. Places factor into the story as much as circumstances. Where we stay, why we leave, how we fail our children and ourselves. In this novel water is always waiting, both as friend and fiend. It expresses the brokenness we feel, whether due to a failing body or the inability to remain steadfast in a marriage. Suffocating in a place where every single thing seems barren, or under the thumb of the person we owe our livelihood to. There are so many ways a person can drown, in and out of the water. Drown in the heart, the lungs, under the relentless scrutiny of the public eye.

1898: A young woman works as a lady’s companion for one Madame Debord, a nervous Parisienne whose had enough excitement for one life. Through Debord we get a taste of what it meant to be a female back then, as she speaks of her past and shares confidences about miscarriages, her husband, and how his family was a looming threat once.  Her lady’s companion knows all too well what it means to have no choices in life beyond mean survival, after-all it is why she is here herself, working for Madame. She will soon make discoveries of her own, of the body, and the heart. Someone will awaken her desires, but they are forbidden ones.  Her soul will sore above water, but one must always come down. The water is always waiting, and people are always watching, ready to take advantage.

Anouk’s story expresses what a family goes through when a child is diagnosed with a serious disease. The symbolism cannot be lost, that a person can drown on dry land and do very little to prevent it. The helpless parents are living as if on the precipice of a cliff, waiting for the moment that could be the last, yet maintaining the discipline they must adhere to in order to keep their heads for their cherished daughter. It takes its toll on a marriage, more so when each long to be in different places. We get both Nora and Anouk’s perspective and it is painful. Nora begins remembering the early days of the late 1970’s when due to faulty genes Nora and her husband Red are initiated into a life they never expected with Anouk’s birth. Nora is “a fish swimming against the current”, the current is their family living in a place that to Nora is isolation. All the snow, nature, distance from other people, like a dead zone. The Canada she longs for is Toronto, where the hospital is closer, and everything is far more convenient. Should motherhood be a price paid, giving up all desires, needs? Anouk is like an amphibian, who loves the water and has desires of her own, saddened by the demands her illness makes on her parents and worse, trying to have normalcy, never knowing if she has a future at all. Weakened by disease, made fun of by the other children, is there a point in looking to the future, one that may never exist?

Tender is the tale of the toy-maker and his sweet Bear. A man reminiscing about his childhood, memories of his grandparents and now his own family. How the wind blows, and every dream can scatter into the water, with no rhyme nor reason. Nothing to be done, nothing to predict, no way of knowing when tragedy will strike. Just a family filled with happiness, until…

 

It is through one person’s grief that another’s salvation will be born. A tale as old as time itself. Life is a river, and water is a lover or a grave for each character in this heartbreaking novel. It is about our first breath and our last. Beautifully written.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

House of Anansi Press

 

Love After Love: A Novel by Ingrid Persaud

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Thing is, worse than the pain in my arm is Sunil’s spirit in the house. The man in the walls, on the stairs, in the rooms. Before he passed he must have put the bad eye on me for truth. 

Love After Love is an interesting title for this novel, because it is about love but not the sort we tend to seek out with romanticized notions. Love here is far stronger between friends and family than in lovers, forced into terrible situations and entanglements for passion. Written in Trinidadian dialect it may take some readers time to get into the flow, but I feel it lends a more authentic flavor to the tale. It begins with Betty Ramdin’s husband Sunil, stinking of rum and feeling big and mean after ‘working hard all week’ he is taking everything out on Betty and their little boy Solo. From the way Betty caters to him, the ugliness spewing from his hateful mouth and her terror as she watches him bully Solo it’s obvious she is like a beaten down dog, trained on the scent of her husband’s brutality. It’s for her son that she fears, who she tries to protect, often inserting herself to do the things Sunil demands of Solo, so that when his clumsy little boy hands fail he won’t get punished. To think people told her she was lucky, looking at Betty with Sunil by her side, but what sort of lucky leaves you with broken bones and a cowering child? Sunil may be dead in a few pages, but his poison has spread and his death will have damaging consequences through the years, testing the bounds of love between mother and son.

Betty is a good mother, trying to raise her boy right once she’s free from the imprisonment of a bad marriage but living in the big old house she could use money and a lodger would be ideal. After giving Mr. Chetan (her co-worker) a ride one morning, Betty mentions she needs a lodger, if he knows of anyone needing a place, particularly a mature woman, it would help her greatly. This in turn becomes the perfect opportunity for Mr. Chetan, as fate would have it, his landlord is selling everything thanks to the misfortune of crime. A gentle, quiet, private man he will be no hardship, though Betty herself seems to be talkative and possibly a meddler in time the two come to mean as much to each other as devoted spouses.

Both Mr. Chetan and Betty have shameful secrets, even criminal to some minds, but in life we are pushed to make choices to save ourselves, and others. There are rules about love and in Trinidad trying to embrace who you are under the condemning eyes of the people can be one’s ruination. People are fast to talk, Betty learns this all too well as she ventures out for a man’s touch, much to her son Solo’s humiliation. Despite Mr. Chetan’s role in his life, a type of surrogate father and a far better one than his own departed dad, when Solo discovers what his mother has kept hidden from him he concocts a plan and with his savings soon abandons their life and flees to live with his paternal uncle in New York. Betty thinks it’s temporary, but he wants nothing more than to be free of her and her lies, to cut her out like a cancer. In the process, he pushes Mr. Chetan to take a backseat role too, and the thing about leaving is that you can’t always return to the people you have left.

The dynamics change once Solo is gone, Chetan is living his life more freely, maybe more for himself finally when someone from the past is again in his life. Betty is yearning to hear about her son’s experience in America, jealous of the closeness he has with his uncle while she is again like a dog begging for a bone, resorting to sending letters to the boy who refuses to see sense in her explanations. He is keen on his pain, and finds many outlets for it.

Solo struggles in New York but feels good being a part of the Ramdin men under his Uncle Hari’s guidance, and no longer under the ‘suffocating’ care of his mother, who kept him a blind fool. Hari tells him it won’t be easy working hard jobs, he should stay in school as his dad would have wanted that but having Solo around he tells him ‘Every time I look at you I seeing piece of Sunil.’  Solo cannot go back to Trinidad and his mother’s lies. Through Uncle Hari, Solo can get to know the father who is just a fading memory and cling to the toxic blame he feels is all his mother’s due. The truth, the same as people, has many faces and may well turn us against the very people who made dangerous decisions for our sake. It will cost Solo, his mother Betty and Mr. Chetan time that they will never get back.  Solo has a lot to learn and finds he is more like his mother than he thinks; getting a mother who has cared for you all your life out of your system isn’t so easy.

In this story some people’s love is so pure they are willing to risk their very soul and yet others can’t find enough heart to accept their child for who they are. Some are so hungry for love they will tolerate any sort of arrangement just to feel alive, to be near their beloved and society itself forces people into dangerous situations just to feel the burn of it. Love shouldn’t cost this much. Shame weighs more than the soul can bear, but how do you release it’s grip? “The moon can run but the day will always catch it.” There is family dysfunction, grief, abuse, distorted memory, mother’s pure love and then some. Here, Mr. Chetan is the glue between Betty and Solo, for that it is a savage and beautiful love story.

Publication Date: April 14, 2020

Random House Publishing

One World

A QUICK NOTE: There are sexual encounters that may put off some readers but it is not the sole focus, keep going with the novel. It broke my heart.

Writers & Lovers: A Novel by Lily King

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‘How’s the novel?’ He says it like I made the word up myself. 

‘You know,’ he says, pushing himself off his car, waiting for my full attention. ‘I just find it extraordinary that you think you have something to say,’ may well be the most condescending, snide thing to say to a woman, especially one that is writing a book. Casey Peabody is a writer, even if she is blocked, even if she never finishes more than eleven pages. Published or not, she writes because if she doesn’t ‘everything feels worse.’ The fellow writers she once shared an apartment with when she was young and fresh have dropped off their writing like dead flies, moving on to more practical careers, choosing instead to lead real adult lives. To think she once had such promise, a child prodigy playing professional golf, talented beyond her years, means nothing. That’s all dried up now. She’s traveled, had a romance (if not with the man, then with the language they shared) only to return to all her debts, particularly student loans. Life was once free and easy when the answer was credit cards, but those happy days are over and bought happiness, like everything else, comes due. She certainly didn’t mean to move back to Massachusetts, but without any other plan, here she is, living a life in default. After the crushing weight of her mother’s unexpected, sudden death life feels far more rudderless. The one salvation and bitter sweet victory is the artist’s residency at The Red Barn, and yet…  a man and messy love finds her there, when she is at her most vulnerable.

In the aftermath of loss, riding her bike (salvaged from junk) to work, living in a side garage her brother’s friend ‘graciously’ rents to her, working in a restaurant barely making enough to survive, we find Casey longing for her mother during the day and burning for the man she met at Red Barn in the night. Emotionally wobbly, hungry to finish her novel and yet doubtful it will happen as she gets older and older, Casey spends more energy torn between two men than creating a great work. The men she must choose between are at different points in their life, complete opposites, while she herself is anchored in past hurts and many disappointments. Who is she, where is she going? Does she just need to grow up and find something more ‘stable’, realize the artist’s life of writing isn’t viable for her? Does either man have a place in her life, or she in theirs? Which man is the right one? Is there such a thing as ‘the right one’?

How do you heal from the wounds of the past, find a romantic life without sacrificing yourself and not waste the few chances laid at your feet that could lead to a successful career? Is it easier to just forget your dreams, as others have? Why must the people you meet and love on the way be as messy as yourself? Why must relationships cloud your mind and knock you off your track? Her own parents relationship isn’t exactly the model to follow.

Regardless of your age, social status, career and the people in your life, you are never finished nor completely sure everything will end in your favor. Casey is at a turning point, a moment that leads to the bigger decisions, but how can she know if her choices will lead to the desired outcome, especially with dwindling confidence? We are along for the ride, sometimes along a bridge, as Casey tries to define her future. Everyone is a complicated mess at some point on the timeline of their lives, we just happen to step into Casey’s as she is lost in the confusion of heartbreak and loss.  Will she give up her dreams, or find her way around the obstacles, the biggest one being herself? It is a story of youth as it leaves and what sacrifices must be made to finally become a real grown up, whatever that means. Lost in general, but there is hope. A solid read to add to your TBR list.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

Grove Atlantic

Grove Press

 

 

 

 

The Girl with the Louding Voice: A Novel by Abi Daré

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But I don’t want to born anything now. How will a girl like me born childrens? Why I fill up the world with sad childrens that are not having a chance to go to school? Why make the world to be one big, sad, silent place because all the childrens not having a voice?

Adunni’s mother once told her that an education is the only way for a Nigerian girl to have a ‘louding voice’. Without an education, a woman cannot speak up for herself, will never be able to support a life of her own, nor have any say at all in what happens to her body, mind and soul. After the worst day of Adunni’s life, schooling is a long forgotten dream and all hopes die. It is after a tragic loss that her father demands Adunni be a dutiful daughter and become a third wife to a much older man, the taxi driver Morufu. This is the only way she can save her family when her father cannot afford the rent anymore, bad enough he couldn’t afford to let her continue her education, but a threat looms and he could lose the roof over their heads. As a daughter, her bride-price will be enough to pay the community rent so that her brother Kayus and father won’t be kicked out. But in forcing Adunni, only fourteen years old, to marry an old fool- he is breaking a promise to her mother. She must do as she’s told, never in a million years would she see her father and little brother homeless, hungry.

Just like that she is married off and slaving away as a third wife, hated by the first, Labake. Her welcome isn’t warm, it is a cold threat, “When I finish with you in this house, you will curse the day your mother born you…”  To first wife, Adunni is a husband snatcher, there to birth him children and try to replace her. What good is a woman if she isn’t fertile? Yet, this isn’t the worst of what Adunni will suffer through. She will do her time in Morufu’s house, where he is king to long suffering women who provide him with useless daughters. She learns fast just what it means for a man to have the devil inside of him. Obey, or there will be beatings. If she runs away, then what will that mean for her family who are now well fed? Her husband is, after-all, considered a rich man in his village- who else has two cars?

Running away isn’t necessarily the road to salvation. A girl with nothing is reliant on the kindness of strangers and too easily fooled into situations as bad as the ones she escaped from. Ignorance and youth make it impossible to navigate the brutality of those who would use it to their advantage. It is a crime to run, therefore what other choice is there than to bow your head in respect, work your fingers to the bone and endure, endure all manner of abuse, endure others taking their cut from your servitude? If the man of the house comes sniffing around, you do your best to hide. Sexual advances are the least she has to fear! Sometimes it is the women who are the biggest monsters. Take your beatings, do your duty even though it will never be good enough, even though the woman of the house will take her heartbreak out on you.

Through her suffering, Adunni also uncovers the horrible stories of the girls who have walked this exact path before her. Despite the violence, Adunni remains steadfast that she must do everything in her power to find her louding voice. This requires outwitting those who have all the power, and pushing herself despite her exhaustion, fear, and the constant reminder that she is nothing and never will be. She mustn’t believe what the others tell her, that it’s best to accept her station in life and stop her flights of fancy, imaging she could ever be more than a workhorse for others. She must remember her mothers dream for her, and use her words as a guiding light in these darkest of times.

This novel is painful because it sheds light on what is happening in other countries. Girls are trafficked and forced into modern day slavery, a female child a commodity when one can’t afford to feed their other children, especially the male children. Daughters are sold to afford a better life for everyone else, and this is modern times! We take for granted the luxury of an education at it’s most elementary level. We fear having the opportunity to send our children to college, imagine not having the money for basic schooling. In this novel, Morufu’s hunger for an heir exposes how women are always the ‘curse’, the ‘failure’. His first wife’s animosity is a matter of her being ‘not right in the head’, to Morufu’s way of thinking, yet what drove her to rage, madness? Imagine the demands, the crushing weight of the pain all three wives endure, all because of old beliefs. A devil inside of him, indeed.

There is hope for Adunni through a sisterhood bond but other girls aren’t so lucky. It’s eye opening. It is a relief to know the freedoms of the Western World and yet trafficking of human beings happens here too so I am not getting on some high horse. Village life in Nigeria for Adunni is certainly not like our modern ways and superstitions still run rampant. Sacrificing goats in the hopes of birthing a son, killed for loving someone who was forced to marry another, marrying girls to old men so they can use their burgeoning fertility and have sons… it can feel like the dark ages, yet it is reality for many. Disposable girls, buried futures… but Adunni may just find her voice!

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

Penguin Group

Dutton

 

 

 

Evie of the Deepthorn by André Babyn

 

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When I watch Evie I feel like my brain is expanding, like I am ready to be dispersed into space and to become a part of all the possibility that I see before me.

Evie of the Deepthorn is ‘a cult movie that Kent looks to for inspiration as he struggles to understand the death of his brother’. Jeff is like a living ghost, as the dead often are, and Kent sees him everywhere. Jeff is present when he closes his eyes, when he walks around the family living room ( where there are pictures of his big brother), the essence of him is always there, even if the physical is gone. His brother seems to live even in Kent’s own face, as family does, but the stark difference is that his brother is in the ground, and he is not. Death is a strange companion, particularly when your mother is still in pain, you feel like an alien in school, and you still don’t fully understand the changes in your brother, the grasping for magic, before his final departure. A video camera, a cult movie, will it lend him any clarity into his own complicated life?

Sarah’s Part: Evie of  the Deepthorn is a fantasy novel, “I needed to understand life and death because I was stuck on the book”. Never having any connection with death, how could she possibly relate to how she should feel, how characters should react? Not unlike Jeff, she too moves through the halls of her youth, at school feeling ugly, never able to figure out how to be, what to wear, how to act. Spending so much time in retreat, in her room, that it scares her mother no boys will ever want her. Her family is a sad story, but with Evie she can write a better world, Evie can save a kingdom! But for Sarah, understanding the constant tension, the hum of her mother’s anger and disappointment at her failure of a father is a pain she doesn’t realize she is accessing. Her mother’s rage festers, then explodes, aiming in the direction of the only person left in the room- Sarah. Years later, she carries the damage inside of her, the wounds of her father’s strange sadness, his exit and returning home, rummages through the remains of the past, wishing she wasn’t so ‘wrecked at 26’. She is haunted by a dark shadow, but who or what is it? Is it even real? Sarah and Kent, living parallel lives that never touched in youth… how can that be? Could they really have never been friends?

For Reza, Evie of the Deepthorn is a poem inspiring a ‘pilgrimage’, running from, trying to purge someone who has been inside of him. Picking through the past, lancing his wounds, trying to understand the real story, there he meets a woman who knows the real version of what happened so long ago. Of course, there are so many moments I got confused trying to understand where the story was going, how it would tie, where is the big Evie of the Deepthorn reveal, bursting with clarity and insight? Instead it was a tragic tale about grief, alienation, abandonment, depression and family dysfunction. It was a decent read, but I honestly am not sure I am happy about Kent and Jeff’s tale, that I feel any sort of resolution I was hoping for, or clarity. The conflicting emotions one feels returning to the place of their origins, where all the ghosts reside, the memories, the stink of the past that harbored the hopeful heart of youth, that is what stood out the most. We try so hard to leave ourselves behind, but you can’t. I am conflicted, I liked Sarah’s story but she sinks too. Then Rez’s part was too short and confusing at times. It is a tale for those on the outside of things, trying to make sense of who and what they are, for better or worse. I felt a heavy cloud reading it, waiting for some light to get in, but the sun never seemed to come out. I longed for the connection the characters were meant to have with Evie of the Deepthorn to be… well, deeper. I was invested enough to finish, because I wanted to know why and how Jeff really died, then Sarah, I wanted to see her grow up but I was left feeling I missed something. I am curious what other readers will take away from it.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

Dundurn Press

Virtuoso by Yelena Moskovich

 

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And yet, there is an extra weight within the room, like a movement finishing itself.

This novel shifts so much from story and perspective that it may lose a few readers in the process but for those of us that like these little roller coaster reads, hang on! Two Dollar Radio serves up another gem of a novel in Yelena Moskovich’s latest madness. The novel starts with a dead body, but hang on…. This is a coming of age at the end of the Soviet era,  Jana tells us for 19 years she was ‘a simple Czech girl’ living under severe rule of tapped telephones, letters steamed open, people disappearing- soviet domination holding the people down. She was a ‘clean-handed little girl’, a very bored one, so bored that even dust stirring in the sunlight would be interesting until the new girl enters the scene. A little raven-girl named Zorka, the “Mala Narcis” a little Narcissus who can’t get enough of herself. This Zorka suddenly lights up Jana’s life with her feral behavior, what could be more thrilling? Where Zorka is wild and angry Jana is ‘solid, smart’. With communism cracking, people are free to entertain big plans, and Zorka has a future somewhere beyond, beyond making her depressed mother uncomfortable with her ‘weird behavior’, a place where her father’s fade from sickness doesn’t hover. Jana finds strength in Zorka, until she disappears.

To the future we go and find Parisian Aimée married to an older actress Dominique, lovebirds from the start but lately something is weighing her wife down. Something is souring. It seems to be a separate story-line but naturally will find itself weaved into Jana’s. Jana working is as an interpreter in Paris, she too finally had her own destiny to fulfill. Someone else knows all about her friend, the Mala Narcis, it’s time Zorka is back in her life, but did she ever really leave her?

The story of Zorka’s mother and her mental illness is told in Part two where we finally discover just where Zorka was sent, to America to live with her uncle Gejza and his wife Tammie. Too hot for her mother to handle after the grief of losing her husband and her grip, it’s a culture shock for Zorka. But even America can’t reign her in, she finds a band of misfits like herself, explores her sexuality, strikes out on her own.

Did I mention the chatroom? Who the hell are these two? How do they fit? HotgirlAmy and a very miserable wife Domminxxika? Chapters throw you around, which usually makes me dizzy and irritates the hell out of me, but for some reason it doesn’t in this novel and it builds until finally at the end there is a picture where the characters fit. How does Moskovich keep up with her own creations? This novel made me feel jittery trying to keep up.

Past, present, dream or no dream, full circle, broken cirlcle, a dead wife, a dying mother, a sick father, broken friendship, abandonment, communism, love… there is so much happening. This writer is all over the place, but I remained riveted. My happiest reading was spent on Zorka’s childhood and the electric thrum of her. What antics, what sorrows! No wonder Jana clung to the memory of the Mala Narcis.

Read it if you can keep up, it’s meaty even though I admit I am not fully sure I have it all figured out. It will exhaust some readers, but I can’t wait to read her next novel. I have a thing for strange fiction. It is beyond genre, a weird read for winter.

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

Two Dollar Radio