I was in a bit of a reading funk, and then Mislaid by Nell Zink came along and rocked my world. Somehow Zink manages to take on the establishment (read Old White Guys) in every way AND tell a good story without being preachy or too agenda oriented.
To wit, Mislaid is a story about a lesbian student who has gets knocked up by her gay English professor. After several years of an unfulfilling marriage, Peggy takes her blue-eyed blonde daughter, moves to the country and passes as Black. Oh, and did I mention that it’s late 1960’s Virginia? And then there is a twist that made me love this book even more.
I’m not going to say that Mislaid is without problems, but overall I think it is going to be a big book this year. Stylistically, it employed some tools that I’m not a fan of – it jumps through about 20 years in break neck speed. And I thought the ending was rushed, but that’s all I’ll say about that. The writing is solid and has a wry sense of humor, which i appreciated.
Who would like this book? I keep wondering if The Socratic Salon is going to pick up Mislaid for one of its discussions. There is a lot to talk about – issues of race, racial appropriation, sexuality, gender, wealth and money – so it’s a good book club pick. For the more conservative reader, it may rankle a few feathers, but that’s what art is about, isn’t it? Also, it seems that Southern Lit is having a bit of a renaissance right now, and Mislaid naturally fits in with that.