An anxious young woman makes the decision to tear herself from LA
Rose, the emotionally neglected child of a monstrous egomaniacal mother, and an older hardboiled gambler, is a true child of LA. Rejecting her mother’s materialistic lifestyle, she flees to Berkeley where she enters into a marriage to a perpetual graduate student/mentally ill Trekkie. Rose gets divorced and returns to LA, only to fall into a relationship with the monstrous egomanic Jason, who needs her dependent on him, and dependent upon his injections of cocaine. This novel is the story of her breaking free from the entanglements of family, love and the city.
This truly is an LA novel, (maybe West LA novel). The most distinctive thing about Lithium for Medea was the absolutely beautiful prose. The sentences were simple and lyrical, with highly evocative descriptions of plants and flowers. Reading this was like opening up chest after chest filled with pearls. When I was done, I kept searching the book at random to read paragraphs, and without exception, they were all astonishing. The limpid prose, however, illuminates a sordid (even petty) story.
The unsympathetic nature of virtually every single character, including Rose, could be a problem. If this were a movie script, the producer would say, Couldn’t you give her a puppy? (Give her a pet? No, think not). Plot points are studded through the marvelous descriptions: Dad gets cancer, letters arrive from a half mad cousin, Rose starts to gather her self respect vis à vis Jason. I kept thinking, who has that little self esteem to stay with such a colossal jerk? The stakes, however, are ultimately low. Rose must save herself, but I couldn’t fully go on the emotional journey with Rose.