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Green Girl

3.62  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,543 Ratings  ·  191 Reviews
Green Girl is The Bell Jar for today—an existential novel about Ruth, a young American in London, kin to Jean Seberg gamines and contemporary celebutantes. Ruth works a string of meaningless jobs: perfume spritzer at a department store she calls Horrids, clothes-folder, and a shopgirl at a sex shop. Ruth is looked at constantly—something she craves and abhors. She is follo ...more
Paperback, 251 pages
Published October 10th 2011 by Emergency Press (first published September 16th 2011)
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The Art of Fielding by Chad HarbachThe Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWittThe Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesThe Marriage Plot by Jeffrey EugenidesState of Wonder by Ann Patchett
2012 Tournament of Books
16th out of 16 books — 269 voters
Presence by Perie WolfordGreen Girl by Kate ZambrenoThe First Pillar by Roy HuffPresence by Perie WolfordUnclean Jobs for Women and Girls by Alissa Nutting
Books I Want to Read 2013
2nd out of 38 books — 14 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Feb 08, 2012 Gina rated it it was amazing
maybe you grew up, like me, reading a million different narratives about what it felt like to be angry and young and male (and usually white.) maybe, like me, you also read nancy drew and sweet valley high and anne of green gables, young women with nerve and pluck but also mostly young women whose problems were solved at the end of each book. and then as i got older, it was sylvia plath and carson mccullers and jean rhys and maya angelou, and and. i've never stopped being hungry for narratives w ...more
Mar 14, 2012 christa rated it really liked it
If you’re like me, your 20s are packed in a triple taped box and hiding in the dingiest attic corner of your brain beneath garbage bags filled with clothes for Goodwill and that easel you bought the day you decided (in your 20s!) that maybe you were a painter.

This was not my shining-est decade. If I wasn’t the grand master world champion of compartmentalizing, I would be in a constant state of cringing shame over things said, did, that blond phase and people wronged. Luckily, that thing calm-lo
Mar 11, 2012 Mariel rated it liked it
Recommends it for: I broke my glass balloon
Recommended to Mariel by: Farren and M. Kitchell
There's a film star from the golden age of Hollywood that never leaves her house anymore. I think it's Lauren Bacall, but there's a chance I'm wrong about this. I'm pretty sure it's Bacall because I know this actress was awarded the San Sebastián International Film Festival life time achievement award and Bacall definitely got that. It's not important who it is. The point is that this person wants to preserve her celluloid beauty in the eyes of those who participate in that whole beauty is in th ...more
Sep 02, 2014 M. rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2011
Recently, I have become an alien. I have left the zone of complacency I’ve existed in for the last 7 years. I threw away or sold 75% of my belongings, put all of my books but ~30 into storage, and moved from a small town in northern Illinois to California. Upon moving I had neither job nor living situation lined up. As of being here a month I am still crashing on floors and unemployed (a footnote here could soften the blow of these words by indicating that I move into a sublet next month & h ...more
David Davy
Mar 13, 2012 David Davy rated it it was ok
Sometimes pretty girls are sad, but then they get their hair cut and they are less sad, but then later on they are sad, sad again. The End.
Feb 20, 2012 Amy rated it liked it
I am far too old to fully appreciate this book.
Aug 02, 2012 Amy rated it did not like it
Kate Durbin, might I have a word with you? Remember when you wrote a review for Kate Zambreno's book Green Girl and compared the heroine to Esther Greenwood of The Bell Jar?

Having the protagonist be on her own in a big city does not make this The Bell Jar, Part 2: Breakfast at Horrid's (Ruth's oh-so-sly name for her Famous British Department Store employer). Creating a character who does nothing but sleep late, try on clothes, and watch new wave films with her chatty, trashy roommate does not m
Sian Lile-Pastore
Dec 30, 2013 Sian Lile-Pastore rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, best-books
I loved this despite myself. Once I started it I was just really eager to read more and hated moments when I couldn't read it (y'kno work, watching charmed with my husband - the usual) and felt a little lost when it was over (even tho the ending is pretty abrupt and not wildly satisfying).

I was in the middle of this when we started re-watching the L Word, and the main character (Ruth) in the book reminded me a little of Jenny in season one.. if that helps any.

I had a couple of issues with this..
Ana Maria Rînceanu
This took me so long to finish and it was not really the books fault. It's just that the book hits home for me. It was a beautiful, character-driven read and I hope you go into it blind. Enjoy!
This was just blah to me and very strange, and I guess, unique. The book opens with a quotation from the Book of Ruth, and the green girl protagonist is named Ruth, so I think the author gives birth in the first paragraphs of this book. ("the pull, the blood, the cry...the agony of I must name her. Ruth...") I'm not sure I understood it completely, but I think the author was the first person "I" frequently observing Ruth, her creation, who never fully "becomes," even at the end of ...more
Nov 15, 2011 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Kate Zambreno's Green Girl is a startling attempt to reach the interior of the girl. The girl wants to be fancy. No, she wants to be annihilated.

An anxious and confused narrator, reminiscent of Carole Maso's Vanessa, negotiates the city, haunted by the memory of a brutal lover. (is that language too dramatic?) Ruth lives in London, in a hostel of girls. Ruth is a shopgirl. She feels alienated. She talks about her digestive distress.

This is the kind of book that acts, subtly but pervasively, on
Apr 17, 2013 Dan added it
Shelves: 2012
i wanted to like this. i've read several interviews with zambreno, and i'm sad to say that i like the way she talks about her writing more than i liked this book itself. she's clearly influenced by certain "new narrative" writers that i already admire (chris kraus and dodie bellamy come to mind), and she's attempting to stretch the boundaries of the bildungsroman to include more room for women's desires/emotions, as well as a larger intellectual scope and greater sense of formal adventure. all o ...more
Nov 29, 2011 Rae rated it it was amazing
Reading Kate Zambreno's Green Girl was like hearing a voice whispering through to my very bones. How often I have been the green girl—performing lines; dressing up; searching for the one who will hear my stories of loss and longing. Carrying her notebook as “protective shield”, the green girl is what friends and I used to call "gauzy" girls, when vulnerable wasn't word enough. This isn't the attractive vulnerability of a Hollywood starlet; the green girl is the open space in all of us, the space ...more
Mind the Book
‘ - I like it when a film messes with my mind a little bit’, sade jag till en fellow cineast igår.

‘- You mean like 'Inception'?’

Bättre ordval – damn that esprit de l’escalier - hade nog varit ”stirs my mind”. Samma gäller för litteratur och andra former av kulturkonsumtion. Menar mer att ett verk berör genom att väcka associationer eller slumrande tankar. Gestaltar något jag tänkt eller känt, utan att ha kunnat verbalisera eller se en helhet. Med det sagt lever jag på samma gång enligt Lex Bod
Richard Thomas
Nov 22, 2011 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing

In Kate Zambreno’s hallucinatory and disjointed Green Girl (Emergency Press), we are lured into the world of Ruth, a young American girl lost and damaged in London. Following this ingénue into her dark musings, the echoes of voices fill the page—Ruth, HIM, her mother, the author, and the silver screen flickering in the distance. It is a hypnotic read—the duality of Ruth—her good side and her darkness, the need to behave and the need t
emily compton
look, i like "girls" and everything, but there's only so many stories about privileged, self-absorbed white girls whose daily agony is the fact that their lives are so boring and empty and all they want is to BE SOMEBODY without actually wanting to put in any effort to do anything to progress themselves that i can handle before rolling my eyes endlessly into my skull. i'm not saying that it's not worth doing a character study of a girl like this, and certainly there were parts to her totally tra ...more
Apr 24, 2016 Kaleigh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: readathon
I wanted to hate this book because it's not told in a format that I've ever experienced. It's an incredibly loose narrative, told through vignettes directly related to movie, literature, and philosophical quotes. There is a distinct pattern to the quotes used, generally from the French New Wave and absurdist varieties which clearly have inspired the content and style of the novel itself. This format compresses the length of the novel, but makes it taxing to trudge through because it seems so mea ...more
Jul 10, 2015 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Kate Zambreno's Green Girl is a meditation on female self-awareness. Ruth, an American girl in London, ambles her way through a disposable existence, making short-lived pseudo-connections and wallowing in others' perceptions of her. Zambreno's prose is self-indulgent, mimicking a style that could be found on an eighteen-year-old's Xanga in the early 2000s. The effect works most of the time. I have spent a lot of time considering the relation of happiness to self-awareness (unhappiness is self-aw ...more
Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle
Oh...I really wanted to like this book but I didn't. felt like the author was trying too hard to be artful and poetic...but the writing came across as self-conscious and adolescent and cliched..."On days like this she cannot shower. She needs to collect, to accumulate. She needs to savor in her filmy layer. It is her protection against the world. To shower, a shock or a scream."

The quotes at the beginning of each chapter from other authors (e.g "Today I must be very careful, today I have left m
Scott Kennedy
May 30, 2012 Scott Kennedy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review, favorites
A devasting prose-poem on the lack of identity that can infect one's early 20s. I loved it. Worth reading for the narrative voice alone. Also, I should mention that I had no intention of actually reading this book when I did. But glancing at the first few pages sucked me right in and then I couldn't stop. This is not a book to read for plot; it has little. But it captures and evokes an experience perfectly. As a reader in my 40s, this is a book to savor, remembering what it was like to be so unf ...more
Feb 11, 2012 Dianah rated it liked it
A study in disaffected youth, Green Girl is awash in the apathy and angst of today's directionless twenty-somethings. Ruth, a young, beautiful American working as a "shopgirl" in London, wanders aimlessly from job to job and man to man. She sees her life as meaningless, and can articulate only that she needs attention. Casting about in a swirl of drugs, sex and alcohol, she is aware, but only slightly, of the vast amount of loss she has endured. With a dead mother and an ex-boyfriend (to whom sh ...more
Apr 09, 2015 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
ugh. I picked this up because I read an essay Kate Zambreno wrote about Kathy Acker in the book Icon, which I liked well enough to seek this book out. God I hated it, it's like a much stupider and more pointless version of The Bell jar or Play It As it Lays--it's strange to think of her as influenced by Acker because this is so flat and bloodless. I don't even know if it's badly written, there are some dumb metaphors which I always hate but the thing that grated was it just read really phony. I ...more
Nov 06, 2012 Drew rated it it was ok
This book should have been subtitled "Youth Is Wasted on the Young." The only reason I gave it two stars instead of one is because it did capture that blank slate quality of my early 20s when I was wandering around, waiting for my life to start. Oh, gosh, it's not just me, what a relief!

But, other than that, the best thing about this book was its generous use of white space.

For me, if an author is going to throw grammar and punctuation to the winds, they must be highly skilled or it's just anno
Jun 21, 2016 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Well, that hit close to home.

But beautifully written. Comparisons to Rhys and Plath are apt.
Feb 03, 2016 Emrie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

I didn’t finish this book. I got 104 pages in and threw in the towel. I wanted to like this book, I really did. I gave it my best shot.

A few things about this book: it’s written with a distinctive style. It’s almost poetic. There are lots of rambling, short sentences that are very loosely connected. Some of them aren’t even sentences. It’s very disjointed. I had to concentrate really hard just to follow along. I was hoping I would get caught up in the story and that would help me deal with the w
Laurel Beth
Oct 13, 2014 Laurel Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, owned
I'll never have to join a HollaBack club.

Both because I don't get street-harassed but also cause I don't get street-harassment?

Something about my femininity is just wrong for it.

I'm blonde but like, hella lumpy.

I'm white in a black neighborhood.

Mostly though I'm what...too ugly for it? Too sassed out? I don't fucking care enough?

Sometimes I am just the one to talk first. Southern hospitality, get sweet-tead from me til I throw them verbal bows.

If I do get hollered at I just like, use it to pract
Feb 18, 2015 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2 stars means it was "okay" and that is pretty much how I felt about this book. The writing felt like poetry. Might be good for someone else, but I didn't like it. The story is told from someone watching the Green Girl who comments on her and seems to know her thoughts. The Green Girl is a detached emo-girl living and working in London. That is probably another reason I didn't enjoy the book very well.
I suspect a number of people like this book because there are elements and sections to which they can relate, but I had to abandon that notion for myself pretty quickly. I set aside the pencil I try to keep in my hand, because I was arguing with the text WAY too much. When I sat down with it to read, I imagined putting on a spacesuit, and exploring a new planet.

The structure of GREEN GIRL is one of my favorite kinds -- seemingly disjointed, but unquestionably not. The rules of the book's world
Vi MacDonald
It never quite hit the highs of "Heroines", but this is still absolutely brilliant - Kate Zambreno is definitely one of the most promising writers currently working. There's an intensity to her writing that goes pretty much unmatched (maybe only coming second - in terms of boiling feminist rage - to Virginie Despentes) here's hoping she continues her strong run, I'm really excited to see where she goes from here.
(Sidenote: I got way too much of a kick out of all the film references in this,
Sep 13, 2014 Susan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
what the fuck was this
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500 Great Books B...: Green Girl - Kate Zambreno - Holly 1 4 Mar 18, 2015 05:25PM  
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Kate Zambreno is the author of Green Girl (Harper Perennial) and Heroines (Semiotext(e)'s Active Agents). Her first novella, O Fallen Angel, will be reissued by Harper Perennial in January 2017, with an introduction by Lidia Yuknavitch. She is at work on a series of books about time, memory, and the persistence of art. Book of Mutter will be published by Semiotext(e)'s Native Agents in March 2017. ...more
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“The green girl necessarily pines for the past, because the present is too uncomfortable to be present in and the future, unimaginable. The need to long, to desire that which she cannot have, that which has eluded her, because she deceives herself that it was this person, this chance, where she would have found happiness.” 9 likes
“Sometimes she is struck by how much she goes through life almost unconsciously. She is being swept along. She is a pale ghost.” 7 likes
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