I was one of those teenagers in the 90s who burned incense in her room and wore black t-shirts with weird art on them and really loved the Violent Femmes and Alice in Wonderland and spent a lot of time in her own head, drawing and reading and writing.
So I’ve been reading this book, Alice. By Christina Henry. It’s a novel. My brother, one of the few people I talk to regularly who would remember me as a teenager, gave it to me for Xmas.
Seriously, I love this book.
It is not the sort of thing that’s generally in my taste. For example, there’s a lot of violence. And no sex, at least not the tortured kind between people who are awful to one another and can’t get out of their own ways. And no people with neurotic personalities. And nothing I generally like to read about. I’m a literary fiction snob who’s been on a memoirs kick for like the last 5 years, and I’m really fine with that.
Alice is fantasy.
But the writing is hypnotizing in its vividness, and it’s clever. It’s not literary exactly, but it’s not formulaic; it doesn’t appeal to the lowest common denominator. It takes brilliant and artful liberties with Lewis Carroll’s original characters.
It equates magic with societal otherness in a way that reminds me of this TED Talk by Liz Gilbert.
Alice is a BAMF. I love books by women about BAMFs. Alice’s companion is a fascinating character. They are both broken in their own ways, but as the story rolls on, they get comfortable in the necessity of their brokenness, and the necessity of their awful violence, and the comfort that exists in life’s hopelessness. And there’s a backward sort of hope in that.
That backward sort of hope resonates with me at present. I’ll take it. And I can’t wait to read the next one.