Savage (Narcotic Nation, 2013) reframes her award-winning play, She F*&%ing Hates Me, into novel form, as three generations of Appelbaum women face their tribulations with family jokes and wry wit.
After divorcing her deadbeat, musician-wannabe husband of 18 years, Suzanne has come home to plan her next move. Recovering alcoholic Ava is delighted to have a second chance to nurture her daughter; after all, she spent most of her first chance pickled. Ava is less delighted, however, with her new next-door neighbor, Buddy, her late husband’s wartime comrade and erstwhile business partner. Blaming Buddy for the collapse of their Irish pub is easy, as is blaming him for her alcoholism. Both women are apprehensive over the arrival of Suzanne’s daughter, Molly, who has a big announcement to make. Afraid that 18-year-old Molly is pregnant and following in her mother’s footsteps, Suzanne is determined to hate Molly’s companion, Brandon. But Brandon turns out to be irresistibly charming, despite his many piercings and tattoos; Buddy turns out to be more than a pest; and Molly’s news is a true surprise. As Suzanne and Molly cope with their new statuses, Ava faces the truth about her past (and maybe a future) relationship with Buddy. Heavy on dialogue and character observations that often read like stage directions, the play’s ghost rather charmingly haunts every scene. Indeed, each chapter is carefully constructed with a few characters essentially placed center stage while others often eavesdrop and plot their reactions.
Nicely retains the sophisticated, urbane spirit of its theatrical origin.