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November 2020

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The Inland Sea by Madeleine Watts

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Best for:
Those looking for a well-written story where the person who is screwing up as they grow is a young woman, not a young man.

In a nutshell:
Our nameless (why are these women always without names) main character is just out of university, a writer, and living in Australia, where the world around her is slowly dying from climate change, while she both moves further away from her dreams and sets new ones to focus on.

Worth quoting:
“I thought being hurt would give my life an interesting kind of texture.”
“At that point in my life, I don’t think that I had considered that anybody but myself had the capacity to feel things with any real integrity.”

Why I chose it:
This was the other book in the Books That Matter subscription I received.

Review:
Hmmm.

First off, this book is filled with really lovely, evocative language. I could picture both the things taking place in the present of the book, as well as the history she describes throughout, of the search hundreds of years ago for an ‘inland sea’ in Australia. That made the book interesting to read, and it definitely kept me thinking throughout.

I also appreciate the main idea of the book – someone who is adrift, figuring things out, living a fairly ordinary life against a backdrop of a world that is literally burning down. There’s an interesting dichotomy there. How does one move forward, make choices, experience life, when all around is fire and heat waves and earthquakes? It’s especially relevant now, as I sit in the second lockdown of the year, wondering how to move forward in life when there is literally a pandemic swirling about.

But I don’t think book connected with me in the way perhaps it has with others. Now that I’m done, it reminds me a bit of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which I did not like. There’s such a specific feeling evoked by that kind of harm one causes to one’s self. And I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, I just don’t find that … interesting, as a subject of literature. At least, not as it was presented in this book. And I know that so much of what we’ve been taught as ‘great’ literature is men being self-indulgent and messy and harmful in their self-exploration, so I suppose yay, now women authors get to do the same? I don’t know.

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