The Thumbnail Book Reviews

by John Q McDonald --- 28 October 2002


by Carole Maso

Ava Klein is 39 years old, suffering from a debilitating blood disease, and this is her last day on earth. She has, though, lived a rich literary, personal and erotic life, and reflecting upon it is a widely varied experience. In a fragmentary style, Maso takes us through much of Ava's life and the literary influences that punctuate the events within it. The book seems wildly unstructured, made up of fragmentary thoughts and memories throughout. Ava remembers her husbands and her many lovers. She remembers her eclectic literary influences, from Beckett to Sarraute to Colette to Nabokov and many others. There are numerous direct quotes from works of poetry and literature, many of which are footnoted at the end of this novel. Ava remembers her travels and her own literary career. And Ava is a witness to her own illness and hospitalization. While its structure is perhaps off-putting for some readers, the book has a remarkable cadence and musicality that make it hard to put down. Once one falls in to Ava's world, most (but maybe not all) of what goes on here makes sense. This reader found himself connecting to Ava's experience more than to characters in other, more conventionally structured novels. Of the three of Carole Maso's novels that we've read, this is the best.

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Also by Maso: [Aureole] [Ghost Dance] [The Room Lit by Roses]

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