The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink

A Wallcreeper. Photo credit: Radovan Vaclav via flickr

A Wallcreeper. Photo credit: Radovan Vaclav via flickr

I can’t begin to write a thorough review of this book under these kind of time constraints. So I’m just gonna mention a few things:

1. Just the other day I was thinking: there aren’t many good books about promiscuous women. I mean, you’ve got your classic fallen women like Madame Bovary but those women either bang one guy before they’re married, or one or two after. And there’s plenty of infidelity in modern lit fic (start with Infidelity by Stacey May Fowles, it’s a gooder) but it’s usually a love triangle, or at most, a rectangle. Where are the love dodecahedrons? The Wallcreeper is about a woman who marries a guy she barely knows for kicks and doesn’t let it stop her from having affairs from meaningless to meaningful to absurd. And we don’t hear the half of it, I don’t think. One liaison that leaves her pregnant is mentioned once, in one sentence. Who knows what else what going on in between! It was refreshing.

2. I thought this book was the next big thing, and it was, for a while, in my own little Twitter-bubble, where I follow independent presses and literary critics and people who get excited by all things Franzen (he blurbed this book.) But now that I’m looking for other people’s reviews, I realize this next big thing didn’t really happen. 24 reviews on Goodreads. Not a book blogger review to be found. It got a lot of press on literary websites like Flavorwire and The Rumpus and Bookslut and it was reviewed in NYT, but that’s pretty much it. The buzz has died down before it really got going.

3. The literary allusions are insane. I don’t mean they’re odd references, not really, all pretty mainstream stuff, I mean the way Zink makes the references. So many authors try to be sneaky, or try to make it difficult to find all the little hints. Zink is like:

He was silent for three minute, as long as the minutes of silence that pepper the conversations in Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence, and finally said…


…die slower than Anne Bronte in Mrs. Gaskell’s life of Charlotte…

4. The little asides kill me. Tiffany is always saying things like “au contraire!” and referring to herself as a “slam piece,” and asking herself, while realizing how absurd the men in her life are, “this is the man I had the best sex with of anyone in my entire life?” beside which I wrote in capital letters: REAL TALK.

5. So, Franzen. There are themes similar to those in Freedom, environmentalism in particular, but Zink approaches them in a less obvious way. I like Franzen but I often think “I see what you’re doing there.” I think he had a rant about the child-free lifestyle in the middle of Freedom that was longer than this entire book. I have no idea what Zink is doing. None. My first note after finishing this book was “WTF.”

6. I can’t decide if I like it. I mentioned it to someone the other day, because they are from Germany and this book is set in Germany. But I didn’t go so far as to recommend if. “I’m reading this novel about Germany and it’s really weird.” I don’t know who I’d recommend it to. I want to find someone though, so that’s something. I’m also still thinking about it days later, which is also something.

In conclusion: no, no conclusion. Maybe I’m not done with this book yet. Someone please read & review so we can talk!

Books read: 5

4 responses to “The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink

  1. Pingback: What do you call half an extravaganza? | Reading in Bed·

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  3. Pingback: That time Nell Zink slid into my DMs | Reading in Bed·

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