January 6, 2016


by Nell Zink

This is a charmingly serious novel about serious category errors. Our protagonist, when young, was called a “thespian” in a school quarrel, and in consequence joined the drama club. There, the cool kids told her that she wasn’t a thespian; she was a lesbian. OK: the goes to the nearby Virginia women’s college that is famous for its lesbians, and immediately winds up in an affair with one of the school’s few male professors. We’re only getting started; we have gay men who aren’t gay, black children with ivory skin, black-skinned children who are white, people with Old Money who have no money, poor people who have plenty of cash but dare not spend it, lawless law enforcement, and cocaine that isn’t cocaine. This could be slapstick, but isn’t. A smaller book than Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, but touching lightly on many of the same problems.