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I am an academic, a lesbian who IS married, 17 years, and a full time wheelchair user, now power chair user. I write about disability issues on the blog Screw Bronze and up to Nov. 2008 on BBC's OUCH! Currently I am working on the postcard project (sending out a postcard to everyone who wants/needs one! Over 5,300 sent. To get a postcard for free click the link below!). Yeah, I'm terminal, I'm end stage, I have days without hope - so similar to all those years of retail jobs during Xmas. Hee.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

October Review from RainTaxi

Zed

Twenty bucks says that Elizabeth's McClung's hellishly engaging first novel never makes it to film--at least not intact--which is sad. Zed not only merits cinematic interpretation, it demands it. Set in "the Tower," a rickety, 22-story apartment building more or less abandoned by the city it once occupied, the book opens with a typical day in the life of its titular protagonist: a fully emancipated (read: "urban feral") 12-year-old girl who makes a living trading everything from candle stubs and broken toaster ovens to information, drugs, and cash among the building's residents: a fascinating assortment of eccentrics, deviants, criminals, wounded souls, vulnerable crackpots, and various combinations thereof, most of whom stay simply because they lack the means to go elsewhere.

For Zed, the Tower is the world, the deal everything, and she always keeps her part of the bargain--not that she's an angel, by any means. When Charles, the toddler son of one of the building's most successful welfare moms, begs silently for a piece of the cake Zed's eating, she ignores him. Afterward, the narrator observes: "Children at best confused her, but, more often, like this, sickened her. How could they stand to be so dependent? For Charles to hold out his hand with nothing to trade, it was beyond understanding." Worse still, she's in all kinds of cahoots with Luc, the preternaturally charming drug dealer and leader of thugs who rules the building with an iron fist and the kind of casual amorality that leads him not only to take bets on future suicides, but to make them more likely.

Still, Zed joins the Father--the Tower's would-be spiritual advisor--when he tries to prevent an angry mob whipped into a frenzy by Luc from lynching an innocent man for Charles's murder. After a couple more little kids are found dead, Zed's curiosity moves her to start looking for answers, leading her into a direct confrontation with her one-time mentor and his minions and eventual building-wide catastrophe. McClung milks the novel's extended climax for all it's worth, slipping into a real-time mode that allows for maximum evocation of ancient, all-consuming evil, rotting corpses, charred flesh, and smoke so acridly real, we can feel it filling Zed's lungs--and ours.

So what's to stop some intrepid director from giving the novel the cinematic treatment it so richly deserves? Well, remember what David Cronenberg said about Naked Lunch: a literal film version would cost a billion dollars and be banned in every country in the world. Zed wouldn't cost half as much, but would easily be twice as banned--if only for the nail gun scene and its aftermath. Plus, while it offers horrors galore and a futuristic flair, it is essentially literary fiction--rich, multi-layered, and bursting at the seams with metaphor. In the end, Zed seems no less than a modern-day incarnation of Maat--the ancient Egyptian goddess of justice (or balance, depending). Luc's avatar is a little more obvious from the get-go (consider the name). Mythic status notwithstanding, both characters--and a few others who survive--are far too compelling to release after a single novel, especially one that resists closure so ferociously, practically demanding a sequel--or two.

By Rod Smith
RainTaxi
http://www.raintaxi.com/online/2006fall/mcclung.shtml

9 Comments:

Blogger Dawn said...

I just ordered this through my hometown local bookstore. I'll be home on Dec. 8th and will pick it up after that.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Marla said...

Just thought I would let you know I am finally going to get your book! My hubby is getting it for me from Amazon. I am excited to read it. you sure got some awesome reviews.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

hey hope you like my blog

11:55 AM  
Blogger PATRICK said...

1CORINTHIANS 6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders

10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

I, PATRICK, AM THE HOLY ONE OF GOD.

11:39 AM  
Blogger PATRICK said...

HOMOSEXUALITY

ROM 1:26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.

27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

I, PATRICK, AM ONE OF GOD’S MARVELOUS DEEDS THAT MAKES IT KNOWN TO ALL THE NATIONS.

11:41 AM  
Blogger PATRICK said...

LEVITICUS 18:22 "'Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

29 "'Everyone who does any of these detestable things--such persons must be cut off from their people.

20:13 "'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

I, PATRICK, AM THE HOLY ONE OF GOD.

11:42 AM  
Blogger R.E.II said...

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4:15 AM  
Blogger Ivonne said...

Hey there nice blog!
Just stopping by n read some nice here ;-). Talk 2 U soon....

8:44 PM  
Blogger Nazli said...

like it

10:50 AM  

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