Pretend I’m Dead
One of the first problems I had with the book, though, was an analysis by the protagonist, a cleaning lady, who was observing a weird Freudian/Oedipal between an aging man and his bowls of cereal — and milk — left around his house. Just jarring, novelist’s observation. But there was also this, advice about the gods.
She could tell he’d practiced the delivery of that line and she meant to reassure him, but was thrown off by the advice written on the wall behind him: “If God gives you lemons, find a new God.” Page 24.
That works. Curious text.
“She’d always maintained that if everyone were forced to throw their problems in the garbage, each person would show up at the dump the following day and sift through any amount of muck to find them again.” Page 80.
What an author — a good writer — does? Sift through shards of memory to find the right words.
“She wore the Taos uniform for Anglo women in their forties: denim jacket, strappy tee, hand-knit scarf, jeans, practical shoes with treaded soles.” Page 142.
Reluctantly, I’ll admit I favor that look.
“Betty’s name was printed in a font two sizes too big, with a list of services underneath: psychic readings, channeling, astrology charts, energy work, aura cleansing—blah, blah.” Page 287.
As literary fiction, this hit close, and for me, closer than — say, Tom Robbins? The narrative dances around the fringes of mental health and madness, with a Millennial amount of real astrology tossed in, and then, well, Northern New Mexico? That’s really old territory for me, it’s that is still, in a timeless manner, still fresh in my mind. Sometimes places creep down in a soul.
Part of the press material about the author, she’s an MFA graduate, and she cleaned houses in New Mexico. Certainly adds to the realism.
Most literary fiction annoys me when flogging literary standards, but a snippet of Sylvia Plath’s poetry gets tossed in, and it wasn’t that “Oh so clever lit allusion” crap, or didn’t feel that way. It was seamlessly integrated into the tale.
In the afterword, there’s a list of “I’d like to thank” people, and old professor’s name is in there, last I heard, he was teaching in the University of California system, someplace. I knew of him and his classes from Arizona, which tries back to the Northern New Mexico feeling about the novel.
From the “on sale now, you might like” list, and for me, I would highly recommend it. A well-crafted piece of literature that captures pieces of the heart without being maudlin. Flawed, but ever so beautiful in those very flaws.