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The novel that hijacked my day.
I owe you guys a few things, most especially a note about trial memberships ending and next steps for the newsletter, and Patreon, and subscriptions, and all of that…but I can’t send that today, because I got completely stuck reading Julia May Jonas’s debut novel Vladimir. I know, how decadent, right? A day eaten up by a novel. I’m not quite done yet, but seeing as it’s midnight already, I figured I had better send something out. This book is so fascinating. It’s funny, kind of like Netflix’s The Chair meets Stephen King’s Misery, with a slight Ottessa Moshfegh-esque sense of narrative danger and unpredictability thrown in throughout, plus an intelligent and complex handling of sexual politics. Briefly, the narrator, a 58-year-old woman, is a literature professor whose husband is in the process of being MeToo’d. Perhaps as a result of this unenviably strange situation, she ends up fixating on a much younger new hire in her English department, the titular Vladimir. Jonas is a playwright, and masterfully reveals a character careening comically but alarmingly off the rails, first just a little bit and then all in a rush, through subtle shifts in the first-person narration. It’s a critique of our current moral moment and a meditation on female desire. If you’re looking for an addictive new novel, this may be for you.