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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Taught two people today, chatted with Grampa, and took a few pictures of 'street snaps', including one of the Icelandic Ambassador's daughter, who seemed very nice, and one of an editor from Player Magazine, which Peter and I had just recently been chatting about. Came home around five, hung out for a bit, watched Gilmore Girls, drooled over on-sale and refurbished macs (online), and then eventually we ordered pizza and watched 'The Queen', which I'm going to be reviewing for work. That about sums up the day, so I'm going to take the rest of the regularly scheduled blogging time to review 'The List' by Tara Ison before I forget what its all about!

The List
Tara Ison
March 07

When I originally agreed to review this book, I clearly hadn't read the cover blurb very carefully, as what I was expecting was not what I got! Al and Isabel are two lovers who can't quite break up and decide to go on ten perfect dates as a way to to finally bring closure to their relationship. I got about that far on the cover blurb, and then ASSumed that they would fall in love again over the course of the dates and it would be a total pink book.

Clearly, I was wrong, but the novel was good, so there you go! Al, who was a movie director who had one cult hit before giving up the silver screen in favor of professional slackerism and clerking at a video store meets Isabel, a highly driven med student at a midnight screening of the aforementioned hit. The two of them fall into a relationship driven more by physical attraction and an undeniable carnal connection than anything which seems deep and long lasting.

Indeed their relationship (we are told, as we enter the story in the truly dying stages of the saga) has ended several times, as Isabel repeatedly seeks solace in her best friend, the seemingly perfect surgeon Van, and Al couch surfs back to his brother Griff's house, while seeking solace in his own best friend, outspoken lesbian Julie. Finally, the pair decide that enough is enough and decide to put an end to the troubled relationship once and for all. The theory is that if come up with ten things which they have always wanted to do, put it on a mutually agreed upon 'list', and then systematically cross off all of the things on said list they will be able to end the relationship once and for all. The list of activities is eclectic, ranging from smearing themselves in baby oil and having sex on sheets in a cheap motel (ewww greasy!), to doing some 'shrooms while at the Planetarium, to having a candlelit shower.

Instead of allowing them to move past their relationship, however, the list seems to serve only to pull them deeper into a mutually destructive relationship which pulls at them and at their lives as they remain unable to split up, and continue to fight against one another while simultaneously remaining unable to move outside of their relationship.

The book is certainly interesting, and I felt it was pretty realistic how Ison dealt with a struggle between two people who are inexplicably drawn to one an other yet realise they are not the best match for each other. However, I felt that the psychological aspect could have been drawn out a bit more - if she wanted to make the two of them dangerous to each other, I think that could have been pushed a little bit more. Interestingly, I didn't care particularly for one character over the other, but was more concerned for the two as a couple. I don't know if this was intentional, but it worked well within the context of the plot and was probably quite challenging to write like that - I can't imagine that it would be easy to write two characters with a similar level of 'likeability'. Alternating the voice between the two of them in alternating chapters probably helped though.

I think the List was an interesting and completely fresh approach to looking at a crumbing relationship. Nearly free of reproach and recrimination from within the relationship (though those around the two main players have a lot to say!), the story is free to explore the relationship at will. I'd recommend this to the YA set and up, especially if you are looking for a completely different portrait of a doomed relationship!

Well, I'm off to bed, I have to be up ridiculously early tomorrow to go check out a gymnastics class (just watching unfortunately)...


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