I’m not sure how I got here, or why. Reading this book felt like stacking twelve tabs of E on my tongue, with the acknowledgement that I would eventually lose my mind, any understanding of the universe and likely the control of my bowels. ‘Jim Giraffe’ came highly recommended from my everyday-hot-chocolate-pouring-barista whose opinions I shall now no longer trust.
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“Yo. Hear the bell?” I say over my shoulder to Thorndike, who's lying spread-eagled on his bed, face down. The only parts of him moving are the bright yellow soles of his trainers, bobbing up and down erratically like headlights. He’d cleaned them last night before bed, as he always did. Scrubbing and picking and brushing any specks he’d picked up from the linoleum. Like he was determined not to carry any of his day into the next.
At just 14 years old, Turtle has already experienced trauma beyond most of us. Martin, her father, is a survivalist misogynist who loves her crookedly and dangerously. This novel is a dedication to seeing the world accurately, without veneer. The level of meticulous and beautiful detail Tallent weaves into his plot means that we miss little. We see it all.
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The closest description I can give to the feeling that this novel gave me was the joyful uncertainty of IBS (and I'm sure that Reid will be psyched to know that I've made that comparison). But hear me out. You know something's wrong. You don't know what's causing it, you don't know how it's going to manifest itself - only that it will, and soon. You ain't gonna have any control, and you can't stop it. You feel a bit sick. This novel feels like a slow descent into that same feeling as it begins to spin uncontrollably away from you.
"Can I tell you a story?"
"Yes, one about me," I say. "It's one I've never told anyone....."
'Elevation' is a curious thing. It contains, as so many of King’s greatest pieces of writing do, an extraordinary thing happening within an ordinary world. Scott Carey has realised that he has a strange and untreatable condition - that he is dropping pounds off his weight, without getting thinner.
I absolutely loved the style and wittiness of this book and its myriad of conversations regarding human nature, and a lot of dialogue I found excellent and fun. There are definitely issues regarding the portrayal of women, and LGBTQ+ issues, but I have scoured pre-existing reviews of this book and it appears that no-one else has felt quite as strongly as I have about it.
“The DNA sample that you have provided does not match any of our records. Please return another sample to us.” He paused and read it again. Without saying anything, he flipped it over and skimmed the other side. It listed the countries: 0%, 0%, 0%. Another small line at the bottom: “Your DNA sample has not returned any matches.”