At some point in your life, something will fall in front of your feet that you did not expect. There’s a challenge that MAMMOTHER offers the reader: to believe, simply, in what you are about to read, and then to risk reading it.
Through Joan’s writings we see what Joan refuses to — that she has not and cannot inoculate her writing from her life; that her art and her life are symbiotic.
In fiction, it’s more fun when the watch, after pages and pages of diligent ticking, explodes, starts screaming, or shoots poop out of its dial — does something, anything, to upend the pattern or upset the conceit.
At its best Castagnet’s debut work artfully skirts overt philosophizing about mind-body relations and necropolitics, keeping this slim speculative novel at an athletic pace and leaving ample room for us to explore its marvelous world for ourselves.
THE VINE THAT ATE THE SOUTH is more conversion narrative than odyssey, and more tall tale than either, filled with a twisty, tongue-in-cheek lyricism that calls to mind a Weird Twain.
What Allingham shows is that songs are most effective when their writers embrace the limitations their medium presents, and cannily exploit these to draw attention to their project’s artifice.