Book #79

Death is Not an Option by Suzanne Rivecca

Death Is Not an Option is a bold, dazzling debut collection about girls and women in a world where sexuality and self-delusion collide. In these stories, a teacher obsesses over a student who comes to class with scratch marks on his face; a Catholic girl graduating high school finds a warped kind of redemption in her school’s contrived class rituals; and a woman looking to rent a house is sucked into a strangely inappropriate correspondence with one of the landlords. 

I couldn’t seem to lose a pervading feeling of hopelessness whilst reading these. Although each protagonist is portrayed as strong, intelligent and impenetrable, they all have the characteristic of accepting fate, an almost submission to the world’s trials and tragedies. Sometimes this is all you can do, and it presented a bleak picture for me.

But I didn’t like any of these women. I didn’t connect, didn’t engage, quite simply didn’t care. This could be the fault of short story format - often there just aren’t enough words to endear us to someone. It could also be a deliberate tactic to allow us to understand the fleeting moments in life, the people we touch only briefly, or the impossibility of knowing everyone’s inner demons. Whichever reason it is, I tuned out.

Rivecca’s prose is incredibly eloquent - I’d like to say lyrical, but the actual word swimming around my head is ‘flowery’. It made me feel sleepy, as though I were lying in a warm field in the height of summer. I wanted it to make me sit upright, to pay attention. It’s difficult to describe.

Either this book is just not for me, or I’ve read it at the wrong time in my life.