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BRUTES by Dizz Tate


by Dizz Tate

Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 2023
ISBN: 978-1-64622-167-7
Publisher: Catapult

A group of tween girls in Florida moves through the aftermath of the disappearance of one of their own.

“Women notice everything,” writes Tate in her dreamlike debut novel, and the same is true of the half-dozen or so girls (and one queer boy) in Falls Landing, Florida, who narrate much of the novel en masse, in a blurry first-person plural. They watch from the windows of their apartments and hidden up in trees, through binoculars and from the edges of lawns and highways. As the story begins, one of them has gone missing, and they watch as the search party unfolds for Sammy Liu-Lou, the preacher’s daughter. Sammy is not like the other girls, richer, older, and somehow lonelier. She shaves off the “curtain” of hair that all the girls maintain to keep from being seen too closely. She sneaks out at night to meet neighborhood boys. She doesn’t seem to be obsessed with fame and fortune the way the other girls are, tempted to audition at the local mall for an outfit called Star Search. As the search party accelerates their hunt for Sammy, the girls keep all of the things they’ve noticed in Falls Landing—all the town’s secrets—to themselves, with catastrophic results. Though most of the novel is written from the collective point of view of the girls, Tate intercuts the main narrative with some short chapters from adult versions of individual girls, all of them in various stages of imploding their own lives. These offer welcome reprieves from the cool veneer of the collective narration, which feels both conceptually satisfying but emotionally aloof, until everything—structure, story, and sense—shatters apart at the novel’s climax. Tate’s novel feels a bit like avant-garde fashion: surreal, impractical, but beautiful to see.

A promising first book whose enigmatic nature is both frustrating and alluring.