Monday, August 03, 2009

Hell by Kathryn Davis

I picked this up in Austin at Half Price Books. Luckily for me, it seems that Austinites actually like to read, so the pickings were good for fiction.

Hell is like a fever dream. Reading it feels like dropping into the stream of consciousness of a desperately lost ghost, one that uncontrollably flitting through space-time and doing the best it can to cope. After awhile this restlessness got tiring for me. While I loved the idea of hell as a horrible confusion instead of a fiery pit, there was one to many elements jostling for attention in the story to make it work for me.

The POV shifts between several characters: a young girl in the 50s, dollhouse dolls, a nineteenth- century chef and a Civil War bound-to-be widow named Edwina. The chef voice is overblown and food obsessed, and was a dissonant element. The whole cooking thing didn't really fit in with the details of the other sections and I wish had been left out. Edwina’s story is a lead weight on the narrative and I couldn’t wait to get through her chapters. Even with all these, a bit of a mystery story emerges, involving the aforementioned young girl and the murder of her frenemy, and that’s the story I really wanted to read. That her loss of innocence is not exactly as it seems was quite compelling; I love how Davis writes about girls and women. Her Hell is fueled by the unspent energy of the lives these women could have lived.

Bonus: Hell mentions both the neighborhood I grew up in and spends a good bit set near the creek where I have spent countless hours having fun, both mild and wild.

1 comment:

looka said...

Finally I get to read about this book - while I'm not reading it itself! Hell, I'm soooo lame!