Life sucks and then you die. Then Chapter 1 starts.

Posted by Bel. The time is 3.58pm here in Wellington, NZ.

I am very reluctant to give up on a book, with dogged determination that has seen me suffer through some terrible novels in my time (Jonathan Franzen, I’m looking at you).

When You Must Remember This had the 15 year old protagonist swallowing down a bottle of aspirin and staggering back to bed to die in the prologue, I knew I was in for a long ride. But I am committed to ‘The List’ and so persevered with this absorbing and slightly nauseating family drama/coming of age story, set in the thick of America’s 1950s post-war paranoia.

Joyce Carol Oates can write, that’s for sure; the book is filled with vivid descriptions of both the time and place, as the characters are shown as human beings in every sense of the term – flawed and desperate, as well as loving and tender. There were chunks of the book I skimmed, as subplots about boxing didn’t hold my attention, but other images that really gripped me – I loved the way Enid’s sensuality was dealt with so honestly and with all the passion she was feeling, despite the warped circumstances.

You Must Remember This by Joyce Carol Oates - #21 on 'The List'.
I give it 2 iPods out of 5 iPods and not recommend it widely.