Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I Crawl Through It

I Crawl Through It by A.S. King (2015)

At the center of A.S. King's newest novel are four teenagers. Stanzi (not her real name) is gifted at dissection and wears her lab coat everywhere; Lansdale tells lies which make her hair grow very long; China has swallowed herself; Gustav is building an invisible helicopter. The four friends are dealing with trauma in the only ways they know how, and the result is a bizarrely surreal novel that is very difficult to describe, but which I couldn't put down.

She had me at "invisible helicopter."

The four seem pretty out of touch with reality, but the hallucination is shared. Lansdale and Stanzi both talk about how China has swallowed herself, and they all believe in Gustav's invisible helicopter, even if they can't all see it on the same days of the week.

The adults are not immune to the crazy of this world A.S. King has created. In their neighborhood is a man in a bush who gives out letters (of the alphabet, not written missives) and he comes across as vaguely pervy. I had a feeling he was going to become important later in the story and he was, in a way that I did not expect. China's mother was also in a class of her own, walking around in latex all the time and putting her sex toys in the dishwasher. They had some sort of torture basement - I guess China's mother was a dominatrix? Her parents had a lot of guests. China makes references to strangers in the basement begging for mercy. Yikes.

The girls are completely unstereotypical and real, which is exactly what I've come to expect from King. Stanzi was the main character here, and the one I liked the most. Probably because of her obsession with the show M*A*S*H, which I would not expect from such a young person, but which I completely appreciate. She loves Hawkeye Pierce, who she thinks of as a mother figure. Her parents take on a lot of what they consider vacations. They visit the sites of school shootings. There are issues her family are not addressing. It's no wonder Stanzi wants to leave with Gustav in his invisible helicopter.

This story is completely surreal, but poetic, and for the longest time I was really unsure where it was headed. But then it all came together in a satisfying way and brought all of the feelings with it!

I Crawl Through It will be published on September 22. I received my copy courtesy of the publisher via Edelweiss; I was not compensated for this review.

No comments: