• RecRead: The Driver’s Seat

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    This book is truly audacious. It’s as if someone dared Muriel Spark to write a novella in which the woman is asking for it, and she took it and ran with it, without so much as a flinch. The flinching is left for the reader.

    Lise is at the end of her rope. This is apparent right away. She’s the kind of person who makes you uncomfortable when you encounter her in public, the kind of person you smile and nod at while nervously trying to put as much distance between yourselves as discreetly as possible. Maybe because I relate to being that sort of person more than a dignified person would perhaps permit, this book is speaking my language. Spark brilliantly conveys the fundamental aloneness of being human in the way that none of the conversations are actually exchanges so much as people blinded by their own tunnel vision colliding with other people’s tunnel vision. She also has a grand old time skewering macrobiotic diets.

    Bottom line: Lise is looking to die, but not by her own hand. A chance meeting with a troubled individual from her past sets into inexorable motion the destruction that Lise demands. Everything escalates to a screeching crescendo courtesy of Spark’s customarily spare, economical delivery. The Driver’s Seat is deeply disturbing in the questions it raises about who in the story is actually the victim. This is a great example of how much can be said in a slim volume. It’s the kind of intrepid work that after reading it precludes any niggling cowardice that might encroach as you sit down to begin your next writing project. You can hear Spark’s voice egging you on, daring you. Thus the gauntlet is thrown, in the best possible way.


    Allison Floyd is a newly minted Austinite who documents the experience of being such at http://schadenfreudiananalysis.blogspot.com/. She is also a newly minted twit and can be found chirping (true to her contrarian form, she does not tweet) at @dysphoriajones. She is the author of two unpublished novellas, as well as several poems and short works published in the likes of flashquake, The Iconoclast, and the Berkeley Daily Planet.


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