NEWLY RELEASED: WRECK AND ORDER
By CARMELA CIURARU
In Hannah Tennant-Moore’s dark, incisive first novel, the narrator, Elsie Shore, is a recent high school graduate with a small inheritance. Now she can do what she wants with her life: nothing. Directionless and numb, she decides against college, not wanting “to sit in class with a bunch of morons.” Instead, she travels impulsively: Paris, Sri Lanka and California, where she drinks too much and acquires an abusive boyfriend, Jared, who hits her when they have sex. “I wanted bruises,” she says, “empirical proof of the destructiveness of emotions.” In New York City, she clings to a “willfully boring” web designer, Brian, wondering if the tedium of marriage might suit her. With her flat, hypnotic voice, recklessness and inability to shape a future for herself, Elsie calls to mind Joan Didion’s Maria Wyeth in Play It as It Lays.
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