Synopses & Reviews
A part-time actress and full-time junkie, Maxella Gordon's life is unraveling fast. She's estranged from her parents, in debt to the neighborhood dealer, and in frequent conversation with an angel figurine she ripped off from the local Rite-Aid. After an unfortunate incident, Max is forced to sell for another dealer, the vicious, legless Carlotta. Struggling to get out of debt, off drugs, and away from Carlotta, Max is increasingly desperate to find a way out.
Drugs and violence haunt everyone in Max's world, yet still they draw together: her parents, still holding each other up though their marriage ended years ago; her tutu-clad buyer, who joins them for Christmas dinner; and Max's own attempt to help Carlotta's son Albert break away from his mother. Honest and unpredictable, laced with flashes of wit and poignancy, Saving Angelfish is a gritty portrait of the dark world simmering just below LA's gleaming surface.
"Matheson's promising debut, a gritty novel from Tin House Books' New Voice Series, tells the bleak story of a wayward L.A. junkie named Max. Virtually disowned by her dysfunctional parents, out of a job, sickeningly underweight, months behind on rent and unable to kick her debilitating heroin habit, Max flits from day to depressing day in a constant state of decrepitude. When she's not shooting up, she's snorting coke, and when she's not doing that she's thinking about her next fix. Despite her spiraling decline and a number of near-death experiences, nothing really changes for Max throughout her story. Her dealers (Grandpops, her crusty, repulsive landlord; and Carlotta, a beastly legless woman) and fellow junkies (Wolf and a roller-skating waif named Tutu) share Max's single-minded pursuit of getting high. Though initially mesmerizing, the drug-centric plot begins to ware a little thin; the crux of the book can be found in Max's unchanging attitude toward her life: 'The goal is not to think-about anything. She winds up places, and that's fine.' Nonetheless, Matheson's sharp, highly detailed prose thrusts readers in the driver's seat of an out-of-control life." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
When we meet Max, she's lying on the beach, drug sick and hoping to stay clean for the day. As she flails in her attempts to find her way out of debt and off of drugs, her exhaustion deepens to desperate proportions. Violence and drug use haunt this gritty account of the dark world that blisters just below the gleaming surface of Los Angeles. Matheson captures both sides, and she does so with a wink, choosing offbeat and surreal elements such as a talking drugstore angel shoplifted from Rite- Aid.
Violence and drug use haunt the characters of this gritty account of the darker world that blisters just below the gleaming surface of Los Angeles, yet they draw together here and there, forever trying to connect.
About the Author
Michele Matheson lives in Los Angeles.