Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

"26a" by Diana Evans (Vintage, 2005)

In 4 parts - "The First Bit", "The Second Bit", "The Third Bit", and "The Best Bit". We're introduced to the twins - "across [Georgia's] stomach, hidden, is the scar left over from where they'd slit her open and lifted out the hair and the living room carpet like bleeding worms and then sewed her back together. The scar grew up with her. It widened like a pale smile and split her in two. As for Bessi, she spent her first human month in an incubator, with wires in her chest, limbs straggling and pleading like a beetle on its back. The incubator had a lot to answer for.", p.4. The scar re-appears on p.122. On p.177 "She did not mention the cockroach she spotted in the bathroom, lying on its back with its legs in the air". As you see, the language is lively. Here are some other examples of liveliness -

  1. "'Harold ... Willy,' Judith tried, kneading them with howling eyes. She had a lilac cardigan that she wore on these occasions with an old pair of pearl earrings her grandmother (in sepia on the sideboard) had given her the night before her wedding; and by now the lilac and the sore blush in her cheeks and her seaweed eyes made her look like a fresh bruise", p.32
  2. "Streetlights happened only once on every street", p.50
  3. "She sat back down and her eyes got slippery ... All over Bel's apron, through the gravy stains and tea, she spilt herself.", p.101
  4. "He was wet and standing in his wet clothes and the mirror could see him but he didn't look. He opened the front door and slammed it again, harder, so that the house shook. That'll do it. Mr Hyde took off his coat, creaked into the kitchen and put Jack Daniels on the table. Smooth brown shoulders and a long warm neck.", p.104
  5. "The apple trees were ghosts. They reached up their arms, they swayed and yawned on Wednesdays, but no one heard. The grass around them grew wilder, and in the shack at the back of the garden the spiders forgot how incredible they were. During the great London storm of 1987 the terrible wind blew away part of the fence; a year later Mr Kaczala mended it. Geogia became a vegetarian, Bessi discovered the truth about the Parson's Nose, Diana and Charles had arguments in the evenings. And in Kilburn, a child was born.", p.109

The 1st of these examples works ok, though the metaphorical language is sudden, Examples 2 and 3 don't work so well. The 4th example uses a Jekyll/Hyde theme and more than one viewpoint to describe a drunk's return home. It's ok. The 5th begins a chapter. There's streetwise language too - 'Nah man, that one on the left, she's sweeter, man. Taller too.' 'She ain't taller. The other one is.' 'What? You blind!' 'Tch! Whatever. They both all right innit.', p.113.

There's drug-induced hallucinating on the dance floor, and color-coded emotion - red is danger; rainbows are good news. The language heats up at tense moments, PoVs switch without notation. The next 2 sections describe sex and the moments before suicide.

  • "He lays me down, it's far from here, and I'm not afraid. Her breath was running away from her towards him and it was very hot; they shared tongues and legs and Georgia felt that flesh was not enough, she wanted to go beyond flesh. Take me to the water, to the edge, to the edge, lift my clothes, push the covers away, and Toby sank inside. They fitted together. It was twoness, it was silence, they had left themselves behind.", p.165
  • "The house is dark. Just before dusk, a rainbow happened. Did you see it? I am going to find the gold. Another shock, another scale, it all is history. She is on the water, holding out her little hand and I can almost touch it. The wind picks up, the mist begins to fall.", p.193

The twins are together beyond the grave for a year, Georgia's spirit seemingly inside Bessi, giving more opportunities for flights of prose - "I discover that I can leave her when she sleeps. I stretch out and enter the mouths of the night birds. I paint the night with the flowers and discover that I am all of this, everything my body made me forget", p.216.

At times I didn't know whose thoughts were being expressed. On p.22 is Ida thinking this? "It is not a passionate kiss. There is no tender hand pressing onto the small of her back, no arching against him and the round of her breasts seeping into his ribcage. " and who thinks "a light brown black girl on your arm was good for a man's street cred, it meant you could get a white girl if you wanted to but you'd decided to keep it real and stay with the race", p.113? And the dreams about Gladstone seem all too novelistic to me.

Other reviews

No comments:

Post a Comment