There’s talent that even an MFA and a PhD in Creative Writing can’t spoil. And Kate Elizabeth Russell is that rate person who resisted the nefarious influence of both. In a little postscript to the novel, Russell explains how the stupid MFA tried to force her to change her novel into something crappy and generic but, thankfully, she refused.
This is her first novel, and it reads like one but there’s a lot of potential in this author. First and foremost, the writing is good. But then the story is good, too. You’d think, who can possibly write anything worthwhile about a teacher sleeping with a 15-year-old student? Especially “in the age of #MeToo” (and how I hate this phrase. Only “in these trying times” is worse). But Russell did it. She mostly avoids truism – OK, maybe she avoids it about 70% of the time – but these days it’s already a lot.
The female narrator is not boring, and there’s even a slight hint at how #MeToo was driven by cynical, nasty, clickbaiting journalists. It takes courage not to slobber over #MeToo these days, so kudos to Russell.
I’m experiencing an appearance of some very tender and possibly imaginary seedlings of hope that literature in English can escape from its current bog of preachy inanity and go back, if not to greatness, but at least to being readable.