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A brief confession, to start: I had really, honestly planned on not getting more than one chunk of text ahead of our official reading, because I think it helps to discuss portions of a book FOR THEMSELVES, without knowledge of what sort of heavy lifting they may be doing for the narrative as a whole, but when I got to the end of Chapter 12, I didn’t even think about it, I just kept going until I was done, because it was impossible to just leave Miri where she she was. So, anyway, I apologize for this violation of your trust. This is a phenomenal novel.
What do we want to talk about, today? Strength and weakness, I think. Roxane is so interested in the strength and weakness of her characters, and how they can so easily co-exist in the same person (I’m thinking of her father, and the weird sort of MONUMENT to strength he creates for himself, but also of Miri and Lorraine.)
And Michael! Michael is such a cipher. I never, ever feel like I really get a lock on Michael. I appreciate how complicated their relationship is, and how sometimes he’s just the worst kind of shit, and how sometimes I have no idea how he deals with Miri at ALL.
But this is all kind of hand-waving, honestly, because this portion of the book is also where we get one of the most visceral and physical and horrifying depictions of rape that I have ever seen in literature (no, I take that back, it is absolutely the single most such creation) and it suddenly threw into relief how cheap and aggravating it is when rape is used in movies and TV shows to make things edgy, or to give a man a reason to WREAK VENGEANCE, because what that chapter accomplishes in this novel is so vital and awful and powerful that, well, it makes everything else look like exploitative garbage, at least today, and probably for the rest of this week, and maybe for a long time after that.
Okay! What, um, what did you think about this part of the novel?
(And we’ll meet back to discuss through the end of Ch. 24 on August 3rd.)
Nicole is an Editor of The Toast.