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A Girl Becomes a Comma Like Thatby Lisa Glatt
Synopses & Reviews
Rachel Spark is an irreverent, sexually eager, financially unstable thirty-year-old college instructor who moves back home when her mother is diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. As she tries to ease her mother, a perpetually cheerful woman, toward the inevitable, Rachel turns from one man to the next — sometimes comically, sometimes catastrophically — as if her own survival depended upon it.
Ella Bloom, an adult student in Rachel's poetry class, has aspirations beyond her work at a local family planning clinic. But she spends her nights wondering why her husband kissed one of her colleagues and whether it will lead to a full-fledged affair. She is also preoccupied with one of her repeat patients, Georgia, a teenager whose frequent clinic visits speak volumes. What they all have in common is their desire for love, despite its many obstacles.
A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That is a novel rife with wit and compassion. A provocative, assured new voice in literary fiction, Lisa Glatt eyes the yardsticks by which we constantly measure our world and ourselves — devotion, lust, forgiveness, and courage.
"A girl becomes a comma Llike that, with wrong boy after wrong boy," muses the narrator of Glatt's keenly observed debut. "She becomes a pause, something quick before the real thing." Rachel Spark, a 30-ish university poetry teacher, is looking for the real thing — but she's also living in L.A with her mother, "because she was sick and because I was poor.... It was love, yes, but need was part of it too." As her mother slowly succumbs to breast cancer, Rachel seeks solace — and escape — in the arms of various unsuitable men. Glatt's tone shifts through comic, pensive and mournful as she also explores the lives of Rachel's newlywed student, Ella Bloom; her lovelorn, allergy-challenged best friend, Angela Burrows; and Georgia Carter, a promiscuous 16-year-old patient at the health clinic where Ella works and where Rachel later seeks an abortion. Repeated references to breasts, limbs and organs in discomfort and disease foreground these women's uneasy relationships with their bodies and their lives; drunken and sorrowful sex abounds; connections with men are made and then broken. Rachel loves her mother, but disapproves of her shedding her wig, ordering a vibrator and falling in love in the face of death. As the dying woman — Glatt's liveliest character — evicts Rachel from her hospital room, readers may sympathize: much earlier, mother has diagnosed daughter, "You're thirty. Of course you need connection." Glatt's clear-eyed rendering of the complexities of relationships between friends and family enriches a story in which the steps toward healing are small and tentative, but moving nevertheless." Publishers Weekly Review Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
"Lisa Glatt's novel is razor sharp and exceedingly funny. Reading it is sort of like acupuncture for the sexual organs — thrilling and very very dangerous." Frederick Barthelme, author of Elroy Nights
"Glatt makes a valiant try to parse the reasons for her characters' behaving foolishly, but she doesn't come up with much more than the usual mental anguish of troubled love and misdirected lives....Heartfelt but poorly built." Kirkus Reviews
"A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That is about everything that matters: love, lust, death, failure, the wish to stay in place, the ability to let go, the abiding connection between mothers and daughters. It is written with sly humor and a tender heart. This is a first novel that feels both rueful and hopeful and suggests that its author might be as endearing as she is smart." Daphne Merkin, author of Dreaming of Hitler
"Glatt had me at the title. And A Girl Becomes a Comma Like That only gets more impressive from there. A brilliant debut." Dany Levy, DailyCandy.com
"Lisa Glatt's novel, with its brilliant array of female characters, does the near-impossible — it says something true about all women. This is the most honest book I've ever read about the complex relationship between women and their own bodies — how they use them, and how they are betrayed by them." Susan Perabo, author of The Broken Places
"It's a credit to Glatt's ability to strip away romantic notions of sex to explore how we use it for control and escape." Boston Herald
"Glatt balances so much so masterfully; it's a powerful debut." San Diego Union-Tribune
"Like one-night stands, her chapters don't necessarily lead anywhere. Still, the novel in stories has some disadvantages. By not connecting the dots, Glatt can't fully explore the connections among all these characters." New York Times
"Sad, yes, but also comic, even bawdy." Washington Post
"Razor sharp and exceedingly funny. A heartfelt and troubling book about how things go wrong, time after time, and how we manage in spite of it." Frederick Barthelme, author of The Law of Averages: New and Selected Stories
Razor sharp and hauntingly observant, this poignant debut novel delves into the intricacies of mother-daughter relationships and offers an unflinchingly modern look at love, frailty, escapism, and death.
About the Author
Lisa Glatt was the winner of the 2002 Mississippi Review Prize for fiction. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Columbia, Other Voices, Indiana Review, and Swink. She lives in Long Beach, California, with her husband, the poet David Hernandez. Visit her website at www.lisaglatt.com.
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