And, often, compelling.
And, sometimes, captivating.
And, really, that’s all I need to keep me turning the pages.
But there is more. The novel relies heavily on dialogue and it is well-done, which builds credibility further. Fragments and half-thoughts. Slang and casual constructions.
This, in conjunction with the straightforward sentence structure, pushes the pacing of the novel. Although much of the action is internal — what Sascha is thinking, what she is remembering, what she is reviewing with recent events in mind, what she is planning — the style makes all of this seem very immediate and fresh.
The use of unadorned prose must be deliberate (and not simply a matter of translation). One of the characters is described as follows: “She smelled of soap and spoke in a chirpy voice using sentences of mostly monosyllabic words, words that popped out of her mouth like peas.”
Perhaps this rare metaphor also hints at the author’s wider stylistic intent: shelling nouns and verbs and objects, each one pinging against the bowl as it’s released from the pod, pulling the reader directly along the trajectory. That’s rather how it feels.
The novel’s theme, however, does not afford the same kind of matter-of-fact-ness. Sascha is on her own when it comes to figuring out how to cope with the tragedy in her life, and there is no direct line to resolution.
Sascha is striking out, unsure and restless. In contrast, her creator, Alina Bronsky, appears confident and ambitious; I am very keen to read her next work.
(More here if you're curious.)