Jen Beagin comes to the blog today with her contemporary woman’s fiction title, narrated by a 26 year old protagonist with a penchant for talking things over with Terry Gross (host of NPR’s Fresh Air)
Vacuum in the Dark
Metaphorically, the title works on two levels, as Mona is often cleaning in dark/dim areas and she herself seems to be moving through life in a shaded and often light-bereft manner. She even lives in a shade-side apartment, and isn’t particularly good at examining her own life, particularly moments that are emotional. Not knowing that Mona was introduced in an earlier book, and finding this story bringing her character forward to carry the novel through the four parts of the story, I will say that everything here is a surprise. Dark, often juvenile humor that dances with very adult subjects, Mona is a not always reliably contextual narrator of her life, and her voice, while intriguing with the pointed and often clever questions asked by the ”Terry in her head” don’t seem to bear any relationship to Mona’s own levels of self-awareness.
The synopsis calls this a hilarious and edgy, one of a kind story. And like much else, the humor and the edginess are decided by the reader and their reaction to the story, and personally, it often felt like a piece of ‘art’ from an artist dreaming up imagery (in this case using words, situations and emotionally triggering events) to push for a reaction. It was a near constant onslaught of ‘meant to be shocking moments’ that did little more than annoy after overexposure and endless topical analysis. I’m not sure to whom this book would hold appeal, it was, for me, a clear instance of expectation far exceeding the actual story, and leaving me with several head scratching moments. Sure, having Terry Gross as your imaginary friend and voice of reason is a brilliant concept, and I can even hear her voicing her own ‘dialogue’ in the book, but that one moment that shines in a story that then becomes an overload of noise with events and words meant to shock and draw notice just doesn’t hold up.
Title: Vacuum in the Dark
Author: Jen Beagin
Genre: 18+ Read, Contemporary Woman's Fiction
Published by: Scribner
Published on: 26 February, 2019
Source: Publisher Via Edelweiss
Audio Length: 7 Hours
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From the Whiting Award-winning author of Pretend I’m Dead and one of the most exhilarating new voices in fiction, a new hilarious, edgy, and brilliant one-of-a-kind novel about a cleaning lady named Mona and her struggles to move forward in life.
Mona is twenty-six and cleans houses for a living in Taos, New Mexico. She moved there mostly because of a bad boyfriend—a junkie named Mr. Disgusting, long story—and her efforts to restart her life since haven’t exactly gone as planned. For one thing, she’s got another bad boyfriend. This one she calls Dark, and he happens to be married to one of Mona’s clients. He also might be a little unstable.
Dark and his wife aren’t the only complicated clients on Mona’s roster, either. There’s also the Hungarian artist couple who—with her addiction to painkillers and his lingering stares—reminds Mona of troubling aspects of her childhood, and some of the underlying reasons her life had to be restarted in the first place. As she tries to get over the heartache of her affair and the older pains of her youth, Mona winds up on an eccentric, moving journey of self-discovery that takes her back to her beginnings where she attempts to unlock the key to having a sense of home in the future.
The only problems are Dark and her past. Neither is so easy to get rid of.
A constantly surprising, laugh-out-loud funny novel about an utterly unique woman dealing with some of the most universal issues in America today, Vacuum in the Dark is an unforgettable, astonishing read from one of the freshest voices in fiction today.
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher Via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.