Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

I read this book on the recommendation of an online review in which the reader said she was "haunted" by the book. Although it's not my usual genre I wanted to see what was so "haunting" about it. I'm not haunted but analytical: I file it away as genuine data for what it's like to be a 38-year-old woman adrift in longing and void, and how we're returning to a world haunted by pagan ghosts. It's well written: the narrator is a spot-on character with a strong voice, as the plot veers through comic and tragic episodes, as well as philosophical and downright carnal episodes. The transposition of Greek mythology into the modern day in the form of a long-lived elemental man-fish whom the narrator falls in love with is done well, and I appreciate how it affects the narrator's thesis-writing on Sappho. The story is always conscious of how this is derivative from and a critique of the Twilight genre. Its central theme is solid: the modern tragedy of complete freedom from everything (including meaning). But it's a theme that the conclusion doesn't quite live up to, verging on after-school special resolution mechanisms. And I feel like this reveals that I'm just not the target audience here, but all the sex scenes started to get boring, which I think/hope was intended? You know, NOT for kids. This spells out modern (er, post-modern, double er, post-post-modern) problems precisely, but it's asking so many questions that it never gets around to the answers. I was much more "haunted" by the similar-but-different story Fire Sermon, and got a much bigger picture of the problems of modern love and technological app-romance from Why Love Hurts. But this book more or less does what it sets out to do, and I always have to admire that.

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