ANIMALS EAT EACH OTHER by Elle  Nash

ANIMALS EAT EACH OTHER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Nash’s debut novel explores the territory between attraction and obsession with a healthy dose of apathy thrown in for good measure.

Lilith is a poster child for disaffected youth growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Colorado Springs in the early 2000s. A recent high school graduate, she lives in a dilapidated trailer park with her clinically depressed mother and, in between her shifts at RadioShack, spends her time drinking Robitussin and stealing her mother’s Vicodin. A bitterly precise observer of the monoculture that surrounds her, Lilith is committed to whiling away her young adulthood in a haze of drugs, sex, late '90s shock rock, and plaintive tattoos until she meets Matt and Frankie, young parents in search of something new to spice up their relationship. What follows is an escalating series of encounters in which characters get tattoos, do drugs, have increasingly violent sex, and explore the boundaries of possession as Lilith tries to fill the “daddy-shaped hole” left by her father’s death. Lilith’s name is given to her by Frankie as a symbol of her “wild demon woman” nature, and, as the relationships among the trio deepen, the symbolism of this identity as an anti-Eve is played upon. Lilith is attracted to Frankie’s poise and wants to possess her friendship; she is obsessed with Matt’s eros and wants to possess his love; she is in turn both the dominant and the submissive in a series of sexually manipulative encounters with her friend Jenny; her RadioShack boss, Sam; her unnamed high school boyfriend; and Matt’s friend Patrick. In short, she “[makes] a chaotic mess” of both her life and the lives of everyone around her. As the novel progresses, the characters’ predictable changes of heart and the power dynamics that drive the plot become muddled by Nash’s insistent return to Lilith’s mantra of low self-esteem and a kind of hot-topic Satanism that stands in for a philosophical investigation into Lilith’s inner life. While Nash’s choice of the first-person narrator gives us a believable and at times engaging window into a specific subset of the early 21st century’s version of corporate nihilism, the work as a whole is overshadowed by Lilith’s unrelenting narcissism, which prevents the reader from forming any empathy with her point of view or sympathy for her eventual vulnerability.

A self-indulgent novel about a self-indulgent character in which titillation trumps insight.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 2018
ISBN: 978-1-938604-43-0
Page count: 128pp
Publisher: Dzanc
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2018




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