No Cleaning, No Cooking
- ‘The Wallcreeper’ and ‘Mislaid’ by Nell Zink
Fourth Estate, 168 pp. and 288 pp, £20.00, June 2015, ISBN 978 0 00 813960 5
When a tiny press called Dorothy published Nell Zink’s first novel, The Wallcreeper, in October, nobody knew much about her. She was American but had lived in Germany for years, though not in Berlin, the usual home of American artists in exile. Her novel had an opening sentence that would make an MFA instructor proud, even as it seemed to parody MFA style: ‘I was looking at the map when Stephen swerved, hit the rock, and occasioned the miscarriage.’ The miscarriage is the product of a marriage that’s not built to last. This isn’t to say that Tiffany, the narrator, and Stephen, the husband, loathe each other. They’re both sincerely interested in the watching and protection of wild birds, as is Zink in real life. But, very early in the book, a few weeks after the crash, Tiffany has a realisation: ‘I had recovered from everything! I was no longer in love! My sense of depending on Stephen for my happiness had evaporated.’ Stephen responds to this development by growing his hair slightly and taking ketamine and a lover.
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