Sunday, November 8, 2015

Binary Star by Sarah Gerard

American road trip with an anorexic and an alcoholic.

The nameless narrator and her drugged up boyfriend John, aspiring vegan warriors, travel across the United States. She is anorexic, anxious, obsessed with celebrity photos. She is also a student of astronomy. Images of stars and galactic processes permeate the story. The reader learns that John is a egocentric clod. As the novel progresses, the narrator loses touch with reality. Will she survive?

I wasn’t really sucked into this one. I have read other stories about compulsive people, but I need to care about them. John is repellent, and the narrator keeps excusing John’s awful behavior, and pining away. The road trip structure is the only thing keeping the story moving, so the book, although short and lyrically poetic, bogs down because the same scene happens over and over again. She won’t eat, he insults one of her friends, they have a mini breakdown in the car. What makes the reader stick with a character? Maybe the character having a lot of energy? And these two really don’t. This could have made a good yet depressing short story with a nifty metaphorical structure. Instead the conceit was stretched into a slight and repetitive novel. It did make me think about anorexia being an infectious disease; the agent being society.

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