STATE OF HAPPINESS by Stella Duffy

STATE OF HAPPINESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A cartographer and big-selling author charts the progress of her cancer.

Despite her babyish first name, Cindy Frier is no giddy scribbler of contemporary fluff. What’s in a name, anyway? In British author Duffy’s latest (Wavewalker, 1996, etc.), the answer is everything. Cindy wrote her thesis on the hidden meaning of maps and mapmaking. (For confused readers, the forced connection here is place names.) Then she turned it into an acclaimed book with the pretentious and oddly punctuated title Dis-Location—the function of space over time: Naming as Generation. (Should anyone doubt the worth of this unlikely bestseller, arcane quotes from it preface each chapter.) Apparently a “hungry public” just can’t get enough of the hitherto-unplumbed subject of mapmaking metaphysics, or of Cindy’s incredible ability to combine “measured truths with potential magic.” Other fun facts about Cindy: She’s only 26. She has great skin. She likes to munch on pistachios, which she keeps in her pocket. In other words, she’s sort of real. Prickly by nature and resentful of her fame, Cindy warms up to working-class, mixed-race British reporter Jack Stratton at a Manhattan party. For some inexplicable reason, he’s given a TV news show of his very own shortly thereafter, in Los Angeles. The lovers move to southern California, while Cindy thinks deep and generally incomprehensible thoughts on the meaning of that journey, with a few nods to all journeys made by humanity throughout time, etc. But it’s not long before Cindy is diagnosed with breast cancer and turns to creating a detailed physical and psychological map of that experience, from the devouring of the body to the corrosive effect upon the soul. Duffy, herself a survivor of breast cancer, spares no details.

Chilly and pretentious fictionalizing of a devastating disease.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-312-32541-X
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2004




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