Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Book Reviews

Interesting, and completely accidental, juxtaposition of novels this week. The linking theme being voice, or lack of it.

Vox explores an imagined USA from the not-too-distant future where power is held by a group of white males led by a cruel and tyrannical evangelical Christian minister. Separating out those who are 'pure' the gay, ethnic minorities and women are all marginalised. For women it's not quite Stepford. No-one has yet pioneered the surgery necessary to bring that about. So women are required to wear a bracelet which delivers a short, sharp shock if they say more than 100 words a day.

It's pretty frightening, given the state of the current Christian right in the USA. The interesting premise develops into a classic thriller and the last 100 pages pass quickly.

In Pew a sleepy US town is visited by one who doesn't speak, named by the locals after the place this stranger is found spending a night. The desire to be hospitable, in this place of Christian principles, to a struggling newcomer is tested by the lack of communication. How can we know how to help you if you don't tell us your story? Is the muteness a preference? Is it post-trauma? Or something more sinister?

In Christina Dalcher and Catherine Lacey we have two novelists right on top of their game and two interesting approaches to the necessity of language.

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