Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky

A bequest sends a woman across the country and into a new life

Leah, the narrator of The Red Car, lives in New York and has a perfectly decent job and a perfectly decent Austrian husband (ok maybe not so decent) when she receives a call from San Francisco. Judy, her long ago eccentric life loving boss, has been killed in a car accident, and she intended Leah to come to her funeral and collect her inheritance. Leah, a wannabe novelist, struggling to make ends meet, agrees to come against the wishes of her highly domesticated husband. Almost immediately she starts feeling giddy. On the West Coast, strange liberating things start happening. It turns out Judy has left her a car. Unfortunately it’s the car Judy died in. Also, Judy’s voice lives on in Leah’s head, giving direction and encouragement.

I really enjoyed this. The light touches, the tone that shifts paragraph by paragraph. A novel loosely structured around a journey, but the real point of this book is the voice, droll and penetrating. Leah, who in her twenties had so much potential, is now mired in a dull marriage. A dull life. The novel begins with Leah reviewing incidents from her past. Someone she has gotten stuck. In this ostensibly realistic novel, things happen that can’t be explained by the laws of space and time. These strange things go unremarked upon, however, they do move along the plot.

In the past, Judy functioned as a mother figure, letting Leah do what she wanted, encouraging her dreams. Judy was always her number one cheerleader. The day Leah finishes her novel is the day she finds out Judy is dead. At the end of the book, as she follows Judy’s instructions to attend her niece'sBat Mitzvah, Leah discovers a new assertiveness. It’s hard to pull off a novel about novelists, but Marcy Dermansky does it. Flatly declarative, deadpan funny.

No comments:

Post a Comment