Monday, December 23, 2013

Book Review: "Duplex" by Kathryn Davis

Have you ever woken up from a dream and wondered, "What just happened?"

Dreams (at least mine) rarely follow linear patterns—there's a little reality mixed in with people from different aspects of my life, usually with a healthy dose of psychedelia for good measure. (If you've ever wondered whether you can justifiably be angry at someone for what they did to you in a dream, try explaining to a person you're mad at them for borrowing your car and parking it in the refrigerator, and see how they react.)

Reading Kathryn Davis' Duplex was a lot like walking into the middle of someone else's really bizarre dream. It's interesting and dizzyingly creative and Davis' storytelling ability was pretty magical and psychedelic throughout. It's less a novel and more a collection of interconnected short stories that take place at different times, but they feature the same characters—a powerful and seductive sorcerer; Miss Vicks, an elementary school teacher who is in love with the sorcerer; a family of robots who don't always appear human to other people; and Mary and Eddie, childhood sweethearts whose lives are forever changed by the strangeness around them.

If you're a fan of dreamy, fantastical fiction that doesn't quite flow in a typical way, where the plot doesn't quite jell and it's hard to pin down exactly what the book is about, then Duplex may be for you. While I enjoy some fantasy and nontraditional fiction, this book was a little too out there for me, but Davis is a very compelling writer, so while I was a bit confused and wondered what it all meant, I was still dazzled from time to time by her use of language and evocative imagery.

Very intriguing, but it's a book you have to work through.

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