Knopf. Jul. 2021. 288p. ISBN 9780593318737. $26.95. F
Reviewers have referred to Spiotta’s work (Innocents and Others; Eat the Document) as witty, snarky, subversive, and vast but local. Here, Spiotta punctuates the local descriptor by setting her novel in Syracuse, NY, where she teaches creative writing at Syracuse University. Underneath gray skies, amid bitter winters and abandoned buildings, lives Samantha Raymond, a 52-year-old woman with a penchant for local history and an unrelenting numbness from the 2016 presidential election. Separated from her husband and occupying a beautiful but dilapidated home in the city, Samantha immerses herself in Facebook groups dedicated to feminist resistance. However, her malaise is as potent as her yearning for activism. While trying to salvage a relationship with her daughter, she desperately searches for meaning in a world headed toward uncertain ruin.
VERDICT At once a love letter to the Salt City and a smart and introspective device for illuminating the present through the very recent past, this novel flattens the American desire for self-realization in the face of catastrophe.
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