Friday, February 12, 2010

Under Where?

My sister called me this morning. In the course of conversation she mentioned that she was on the Indigo website ordering a book for her daughter when this book suddenly popped up in her sidebar. She couldn't remember precisely why she had intended to read it, but she ordered it anyway, and then she remembered that I had recommended it. This prompted me to look back in my posts for my review.

And I couldn't find it.

Agh!

Full disclosure: I know the author, Ilana Stanger-Ross. Not intimately or since childhood or to pop over for tea (I wish), but she's good friends with my sister-in-law, and intimately tangled up in the genesis of this very blog (gasp!). It's true -- look at my very first post ever to verify.

If you're thinking that the fact that I know her and like her makes me more likely to give the book a good review, you are so flat-out back-assward blind-drunk cousin-wed WRONG, that...well, refer back to my very first post ever again. Ilana's the first person I've ever really known that got a book published. The phrase "gnawed to the bone by a million rabid rats of envy" springs to mind (doesn't precisely roll off the tongue, though). If there had been the tiniest of flaws, the most nearly imperceptible of errors, I would have percepted the hell out of it. In my tiny, shriveled, petty, unlovely heart of hearts, I wanted to hate this book.
Imagine my crankiness. For any book, it's great. For a first novel it's fucking brilliant, damn it. I didn't even have to skim it again to remember the whole story, which almost never happens. It's not the kind of book where you pore over sentences and pull out quotes. It's the kind of writing that creates a world so real that it sucks you right in and impresses itself on you so that you can see the mark of the bra strap on your shoulder when you stop reading. The characters are so real you can hear their voices as you read their remarks. I'm not Jewish, except reading this book? I was Jewish. And old, and seething with resentment and regret and self-admonishment and rage and yearning (yeah, all that wasn't as much of a stretch for me).

Sima is a wonderful character. She's strong but flawed, intelligent but deeply unhappy. Timna, the beautiful and exotic stranger who enters her life and changes it forever, is a real character in her own right as well as being a catalyst. There's something so quotidian and so beautiful about the bra shop, women congregating around something that hinges on the body, on vulnerability and nakedness and sexuality, on something that can be a basic garment of support or an accessory meant to reveal, to engender desire, which is a shimmering thread running through the novel.

I suspect I didn't write the review as soon as I read the book because I felt like I couldn't do it justice and Ilana might read it and unfriend me on Facebook or something. Either that or I just forgot. I hope it wasn't the whole bitter and corroded with envy thing. Nah. I forget stuff all the time. Last week I went to pick Eve up off the school bus and she wasn't there because she'd gone home with her friend Laura which I knew, but forgot. Happily, the police were pretty understanding.

Clearly publishing a stunningly fabulous work of literature wasn't good enough for Ilana, since now she's a midwife. Don't you hate her? Come on, you kind of hate her. Don't worry -- I have it on good authority that she underwent some wacky government experiment which means that now she never sleeps. That's not really true of course, but thinking it is like balm on my acidly envious soul.

Way to go, Ilana. You bitch.

3 comments:

suzicate said...

quite a review...I will have to check it out. I have met several authors(at my writers group), and they have real jobs because it's good to eat. Sad as it is, the average author only makes about $4000 per book (unless they're a big name like Steven King or John Grisham)because they have to do their own publicity.

Jenny said...

Wow, what a glowing review. I might have to give that a try. Visiting you from SITS!

Jordan said...

This is my favourite review of the book to date.

Jordan Stanger-Ross