So Lucky
February 15, 2019 9:59 AM - by Nicola Griffith - Subscribe

From the author of Hild, a fierce and urgent autobiographical novel about a woman facing down a formidable foe So Lucky is the sharp, surprising new novel by Nicola Griffith―the profoundly personal and emphatically political story of a confident woman forced to confront an unnerving new reality when in the space of a single week her wife leaves her and she is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Mara Tagarelli is, professionally, the head of a multimillion-dollar AIDS foundation; personally,...
posted by OHenryPacey (7 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you happen to have read this and liked it, please make a comment. I posted this book a week ago and my own review was so scathing that the post was deleted by the mods and despite the nature of the ToB club I was advised against even adding my review as the first comment, so as not to stifle discussion.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:02 AM on February 15, 2019

This makes me extremely curious! I'm planning on reading it but am on the library waiting list, perpetually.
posted by tofu_crouton at 2:42 PM on February 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

OHenryPacey, had you liked any of Griffith's prior work? I greatly enjoyed Hild, myself.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:56 PM on February 15, 2019

I really enjoyed Hild, and that's why I signed up for So Lucky. They are nothing alike. This book is about anger, and I found it to be unpleasant. I found the character to be unremittingly uncharitable in the way she characterized other people's reactions to herself, and i found Griffith's attempts to dramatize fear to be outlandish (I don't cotton to torture).

I was so taken aback by the tone of the book that I stopped and checked the "about the author" section to confirm my suspicion that yes, Griffith shares the same affliction as her main character, and the book is "semi-autobiographical". From that point I couldn't help but feel her bitter vindictiveness and I really didn't enjoy it.

I don't know how other folks feel about the word C_______, but a) it's already been taken by a gang in LA and b) in this context it reads to me no better than the R word and I never felt like I was going to buy into a movement where those afflicted by MS would feel empowered by using it in self-reference.

I honestly thought that the main character's work in an HIV nonprofit would give her context in which to navigate the change in her life, but it must have been a throwaway narrative device because she never seemed to be able to see herself through that lens.

In terms of the ToB, I can't see this book advancing unless the judge has a particular thing for this kind of anger. I'll be interested to see how it fares.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:07 PM on February 15, 2019

Griffith is one of my favorite authors, but this was not one of my favorite books. I didn't utterly hate it, but I didn't particularly like it, either. In many ways, I wasn't sure what to make of it. It had a lot of power in its raw anger. But it also had subplots that seemed to go nowhere, and moments that didn't quite work. I rated it 3 out of 5 stars (compared to 5 out of 5 for both Hild and Slow River, although she has other books I've given 4 stars or 3 stars.)
posted by kyrademon at 1:54 AM on February 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

The deleting of Cripple as a word to make it into a slur when it's being reclaimed specifically by Griffith and other disabled authors in fiction annoyed me enough that I just went and bought a copy to read tomorrow. I have Hild in my to-read pile, and I love her short essays and pieces.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 4:54 AM on February 16, 2019

I have always known the word to be used as a slur, just as I have always known the diminutive form "crip" to be used to refer to gang members. I grew up in a time when friends of my parents had been crippled by polio, and while my grandparents could get away with referring to them as cripples, my sister and I sure as hell could not.

If I had been reading a long-form essay on the reclamation of the word by the community, and it laid out ground-rules (the 101 as we say here in meta land) I could accept it as a thing, but again, Griffith's character set a particular tone that struck me as bitter and uncharitable, rather than defiant and empowering, so my reaction to the use was almost that Mara was daring folks to use it so that she could go off on them.

I'm certainly open to a discussion of how communities reclaim words and whether or not that gives others a pass on using those words, but for me, this book doesn't change whether I feel comfortable about using it myself (I don't).
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:28 AM on February 16, 2019

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