Menu Home

Generation Loss

Like most members of my Clarion class, I’m reading some books by the 2009 instructors. The first one I finished was Elizabeth Hand’s Generation Loss.

There are many things I could say about it, but a few stand out:

  1. Normally I can’t stand reading POV characters who are self-destructive and do rotten things; it makes me feel icky to be in the head of someone like that, and I typically close the book. But Cass, the protagonist of GL, is exactly such a person, and I could not stop reading about her. And EH reminds you, over and over, that Cass is self-destructive and a bad girl,  fairly late into the action, and it makes her more compelling. I’m trying to figure out why — maybe it’s because we long so badly for her redemption, and keep reading to see if it will happen?
  2. EH knows when to use lush description and when to be spare and telegraphic. There are bleak Maine landscapes she describes as if she were a painter (Cass is a photographer), yet a traumatic, crucial rape scene is done in just a few careful brushstrokes. Both of these things are exactly right for the character (Cass loves the landscape, is afraid to remember the rape).
  3. When you’ve got three central characters named Cassandra, Aphrodite and Griffin (Gryphon), are you being heavy-handed with your symbolism? I don’t think so, because it’s far from obvious what she intends the symbols to mean here. I’ll bet there’s some relationship between C and A in mythology that I don’t fully remember — my memory is that C’s punishment came from Apollo.
  4. This book further convinces me that genre borders are nonsense. You could classify it as a "literary novel" (or "Late 20th Century American Naturalism," as Michael Chabon likes to call it), as a thriller, as a murder mystery.


At any rate, a compelling, thrilling book.

Categories: Uncategorized

Tagged as:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: