Saturday, April 27, 2013
Inside by Alix Ohlin
Inside tells the story of four characters – or perhaps more accurately, it tells four stories of four characters. Grace the therapist, Annie the actress, earnest Mitch, also a therapist, and the haunted Tug. The locations are Montreal, New York, Los Angeles, Nunavut, and Rwanda. The four characters are somewhat connected, though not their stories really are not - perhaps this is actually a book of linked novellas. For the most part, the story arcs are about the unintended consequences of trying to help. In some cases, the results are negative. In other, neutral or maybe slightly positive. I was impressed that the author didn’t feel the need to have a “happy” ending with everything neatly tied up.
I’m not sure if this was my cup of tea. The prose was tastefully smooth and the numerous characters were well delineated and deep, but for me the story was too bland. There was no passion and I like passion. There’s not even that much quirk. Reading the book felt a little like watching a Barbie and a Ken be propelled through a doll house. The motivations felt suspect. Would anybody, let alone a therapist, enter into a romantic relationship with a person they just cut down from a suicide attempt? And would a wary hard young woman invite a pregnant homeless teenager into her one bedroom apartment and start sleeping on the sofa? I just didn’t buy it, though I bought it enough to finish the book.