Friday, December 26, 2014

This Book Will Change Your Life - Doll Palace by the Sara Lippmann.

The kids aren't alright. This is what we thought when we read Doll Palace by the Sara Lippmann. Which is not to say the adults are alright. Because they're not. They're fucked too. But how couldn't they be? What we also learned, is that "The Kids Aren't Alright," is a song by The Offspring. Which we might have known? So not clear. Still, check out these sample lyrics:

"When we were young the future was so bright
The old neighborhood was so alive
And every kid on the whole damn street
Was gonna make it big and not be beat"

The song goes on to talk about shattered dreams, and having children, and what not, and while we be may talking different neighborhoods, different kids, and even different social strata, this is the thing about Lippmann's tragic characters, and they're all tragic, which should not be confused with to be avoided. Well, maybe avoided in real life. You might even want to run from them. But Lippmann's writing is much too rich to run from the pages themselves, and way too absorbing, with her shifting time frames, attention to detail, near, but not quite there moments of raunch, and her knowingness about class, especially the middle class, particularly of the Jewish and quasi-urban variety. And has anyone recently written so eloquently about the dashed dreams of the middle class? How little it can all mean when you marry the wrong person, get cancer, and all the rest of the modern day ills that will trip us up when we should otherwise be happy in the supposedly more advanced world we live in today? But dreams will be dashed, people will suck, children will be sick, drugs will take hold of old friends, the mistakes we made in our youth will linger like shadows, and we will get old. It's unavoidable, all of it, and what we we're left with, outside of the lingering vibrations from having this electric book in our hands, is two-fold. First, how well can we hope to function as adults, or at least how likely are we to find some fucking happiness, regardless of class, when our childhoods and families of origin, are so fucked and lacking in care? And second, how can anyone with any knowledge about what our children may be up to, want to raise children in the first place? Maybe we need to avoid knowing anything at all? Which we suppose is one of Lippmann's points, even if she's not consciously seeking to jam it in our faces: we will fuck our children up, and they will become fucked-up adults, and while happiness, if any, may only come in the cracks between the pages, we just may be able to change our lives. We just shouldn't count on it. 

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