Tuesday, March 30, 2010

They Is Us

Wow. Tama Janowitz! YES.

“This is the strangest novel you will read all year,” says the back blurb… and although it is only March, ya got that right.

Every so often, I come across a book that reaffirms my belief in a truly new story – an eerie and impregnable story – genius and vision in letters and lines. If you also search for books with these characteristics, please read They Is Us, by the astute wordsmith Tama Janowitz.

In turns, this “cautionary horror story” is hilarious, chilling, delightful, disturbing, tender, absurd, heartbreaking, squishy, re-readable, and… possible? Bowel movement, I hope not.

Picture New Jersey, at the end of the century, post-war (the U.S. lost, by the way – to Syria and Palestine). Pollution, hologramovision, and feathered bunnies abound. Family life exists, but not as we know it. Follow the lives of single-mother Murielle, her daughters, and other… living beings… as they try to make sense of what is going on around them, and to them. Whee! What fun!

Readers, the words fairly leaped off the page and into my eyes. I could see everything happening – at my feet, in the sky, 50 feet away, in my hands, at work, in the rain, in the dark, in the broiling hot sun, and everywhere else, too. (That includes my dreams, later, but not in a bad way.)

Slaves of New York (short stories) has been in my gigunda To Read pile since forever because I keep piling more books on top but this caught my eye at the library last week (Recent Fiction section, if you count 2008 as recent) and I have been unable to put it down. Oh! That’s another thing! It’s long enough! With enough words on the page! And exclamation marks! And ellipses…

There was nothing I didn’t like in this one, including the stock it was printed on. And character development was extensive. I felt like I really knew the characters and how they would react to doings in today’s world. But the scenarios presented were so… hmm, outlandish… that they always kept you guessing.

They is Us was meaty and satisfying, like a delicious meal… definitely not a snack. This is not just a book. It’s an experience. By the end, you will be entranced, wide-eyed and breathless. (And by the way, whoever edited this did so lovingly and with a great deal of patience… and I also congratulate them.) Thank you, Tama! Thank you, Tama’s editor!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read SONY so long ago I can't even remember anything but that I liked it ... maybe time for a reread then? Sounds like I should add this one to my pile. :)