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June 20, 2019 | Rome, Italy

A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That

By | 2018-03-21T18:28:20+02:00 January 1st, 2006|Recent Reviews|

By Lisa Glatt

Simon & Schuster, 2005. 304 pages.

Glatt isn’t kidding. A girl, her girl, really is a comma. A comma is an accelerator, an accessory, an incidental bit of breakage that varies in importance and intensity: “something quick before the real thing.”

Rachel Stark’s mother is dying of cancer. Rachel, unmoored, throttles into boys. Men, you might say, but not always. “His name is Dirk or Derrick or Dick,” says 30ish Rachel for openers. “I make a mental note to find out which one before I let his hand into my skirt.” A lot of skirts get ruffled in Rachel’s world (and Angela’s and Ella’s and Georgia’s, companions in this hydra of stories disguised as a digressing novel). One boy, Jack, tells Ella, “The horny males come from miles around to one specific place, looking for females.” Jack is talking about bats but that’s a detail.

Glass’ girls are lost in Anne Sexton-land, moist and damaged and eager for stopgaps. What makes her a good writer is that sex actually includes well-delineated men who bring with them their own set of problems. The prose has substantive dimension. Georgia’s father has a neurological disease “like Alzheimer’s, only faster,” a “disease with feet, with toes and heels and soles.” Glass is nothing if not throughout, sad, and sometimes extremely good.

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The Book Staff represents a series of authors who review books for the magazine on a regular basis.

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