Picture of author.

Marjorie Celona

Teoksen Y tekijä

2+ teosta 293 jäsentä 33 arvostelua

Tietoja tekijästä

Image credit: Marjorie Celona. Photo Credit: Sherri Barber

Tekijän teokset

Y (2012) 256 kappaletta
How a Woman Becomes a Lake (2020) 37 kappaletta

Associated Works

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2008 (2008) — Avustaja — 467 kappaletta

Merkitty avainsanalla




“Missing person” stories have become the gift which keeps on giving. Over the past year I must have read about four or five novels built on the premise of a mysterious disappearance (I’m honestly losing count). The good news is that this trope - or genre, which is what it has basically morphed into – keeps reinventing itself, with every author giving it an idiosyncratic spin.

In Marjorie Celona’s How a Woman Becomes a Lake the missing protagonist is Vera, a thirty-year old filmmaker and lecturer who lives in the small West Coast fishing town of Whale Bay, “just a stone’s throw from Canada”. On New Year’s Day 1986, Vera goes out for a walk with her dog Scout and fails to return home. The local detectives immediately presume foul play. Vera’s considerably older husband, Denny Gusev, becomes a murder suspect, particularly since neighbours claim to have heard the couple heatedly argue on the evening of the disappearance. Officer Lewis Coté, however, refuses to accept this neat solution. Just before going awol, Vera phones the Police claiming that she has found a boy in the woods. Could it have been one of Leo’s two sons, who were out near the lake on the same day? Do the boys know more than they are letting on?

The book’s blurb describes this novel as “a literary novel with the pull and pace of a thriller, told in taut illuminating prose”. It’s the type of description which, unfortunately, shows the stigma still associated with genre fiction. There would have been nothing wrong or shameful with describing How a Woman Becomes a Lake as a “noir” or an outright “thriller”, because (i) that’s what it is and (ii) it is a noir/thriller in the best senses of the word. It is a page-turner which reveals its secrets cunningly. In a nod to Scandi-thrillers, it also uses landscape and nature to wonderful effect. Also, at a more ‘philosophical’ level, it is in keeping with the noir tradition which revels in psychological and moral shadows. The best characters have their faults, whilst even the worst have redeeming features.

Celona borrows her title from a New Yorker essay by Jia Tolentino, which in turn references Ovid. This title, with its echoes of Classical mythology, suggests a magical realist aspect to the novel, one which becomes apparent in its more whimsical, poetic chapters. It also invites a metaphorical reading of the book: a cry against the gender politics of a patriarchal society, reflected in the expectations society makes of Vera, of Evelina and, conversely, of Lewis, Leo and Denny.

How a Woman Becomes A Lake provides much food for thought. Which, of course, does not make it any less of an exciting noir.

… (lisätietoja)
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JosephCamilleri | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Feb 21, 2023 |
This book is difficult to pigeonhole. It's not really a mystery, nor a thriller either, although there are elements of both, and a little too much of them to be considered literary fiction.

It IS a very suspenseful novel, a slow burner that comes together in a demonstration of human nature and circumstances gone out of control. Recommended.
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ParadisePorch | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Jul 2, 2022 |
between 3 and 3.5 stars. this is nicely done. the writing is tight and the different perspectives work well to show the reader certain aspects of the story at a time. i don't think she caught the ages of the boys correctly (for example a 6 year old isn't going to need someone to bathe him, generally) but otherwise everything read really realistically and true, for all of the characters.

the tragedy of what happened and of how jesse's fear of his father is what caused it all was a bit glossed over. although all of the feelings and emotions behind everything were buried and hidden away, so i guess that fits. and the snow and thaw theme for the story works well for that idea, too.… (lisätietoja)
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overlycriticalelisa | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | May 24, 2022 |
This book is as strange as its name. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't this semi-thriller, semi-paranormal and semi-dysfunctional family type of story. The book is quite well written as well which makes it somewhat like literary fiction as well. The story is set near the ocean in a place called Whale Bay. I'm not sure if this is a real place in Canada or not,The time line is from January 1, 1986 when the incident occurs to 1993, and the final chapter is set in 2020, so it's more like an epilogue. On this 1986 New Year's Day Leo is taking his young sons for a walk along the lake. Leo and Evelina have been separated for awhile by now, and this is Leo's day to entertain the boys. It is a fateful day, and the occurrences from this day forever haunt all the people in this family. The secrets kept and the appalling lies threaten to tear the family apart. A woman goes missing at this lake on the very day that Leo and his boys are there and that mystery haunts the family as everyone knows that they were at that spot when the lady goes missing. It is hard to like most of these characters. Even the two boys are not really likeable, but at the same time I felt sorry for them because of the home life that they have had. Jessie and Dmitri's father is not a nice man, and he is even worse when he's been drinking, which he always does. The book is told from different perspectives throughout so I found it quite disjointed and caused the plot to lurch along rather than to flow. I also didn't care for the ending as everything is left up in the air and it's quite unsatisfying. But the writing is exceptional. The characters are very well-drawn, and the story does carry you away as you read. I listened to this on audiobook so it was an unusual experience as this method with this book made the characters appear very real, and very creepy. An audiobook forces the listener to proceed at the pace of the narrator, and I found this a bit frustrating with this particularly obnoxious family. I kept thinking that they all needed a kick in the butt. This is a slower paced thriller, but worth a read.… (lisätietoja)
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Romonko | 7 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Mar 6, 2022 |



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