Just Shelved

My Goodreads review of Duplex, by Kathryn Davis. (3 of 5 stars)

Want to know what time folding in on itself like a noodle might feel (or at least sound) like? The prose here is striking: repetitive in a good way, in a "worlding" way as it combines artificial and natural imagery. It's the ideal strategy for this melange of speculative fiction and fairy tale fiction, for menace and innocence. I think if I read this book again, more attuned to the "hinging" of the Duplex metaphor and its overt exploration in the plot, I might inflate my star rating. As it is, I was never completely engrossed in this book, and my intermittent reading only led me to feel that I had missed a few key narrative repetitions that would have matched the richness of the telling itself.

One authorial choice that feels especially apt is the ritualistic 1950's social veneer placed on gender roles and the sameness of families sharing streets and secrets with one another. Another is the focus on girlhood and its own "preparatory" rituals--sometimes it takes something fabulist to truly peel back the insidiousness of what all this can mean. Rigid social patterns are meant to protect us from chaos, but a chaotic Universe lies across that inscrutable body of water, and in the potential of every dusk. We are within it at every moment, and that comprises the most powerful symbolism in Davis' novel.

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