Juushika's Reviews > Stunt

Stunt by Claudia Dey
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's review
Dec 10, 2013

really liked it
bookshelves: status-owned
Read in September, 2011

When her father abandons the family leaving just a note behind, nine-year-old Eugenia begins a journey--through sudden adulthood, in search of her father, towards their tightrope-walking ancestor. Magical realism on a Toronoto landscape, Stunt is a tale of the half-believable strangeness of personal experience on the fringes of suburban life. Dey's voice is abrupt and image-laden, a near opposite of lyrical prose; instead it mirrors transcribed spoken poetry, and while that style can initially be difficult, it develops a strong and easily-internalized rhythm: at first the book seems strange, but after a hundred pages it's the outside world which seems strange, and simple, and arrhythmic. Stunt approaches its subject matter as though in a dream, but defines it with nuance and intricate, private detail; the combination is something like portraiture, sketched here, painstakingly detailed there, creating a complete image which is convincing not despite, but because, of its stylization. It's not a flawless achievement, and obscurely dense paragraphs, underexplored elements, and offputting aspects linger. But in many ways Stunt reminds me of Haven Kimmel's Iodine , another obscure and strange novel about one woman's bizarre life: it surprises me not at all that Stunt is all but unknown, and I doubt that a United States release would change that; both stranger and more normal than it seems, it will find a small audience and sometimes hold even them at a distance. But Stunt is also remarkable. In an age overflowing with suburban angst, this is something different: a liminal view of almost-normal life, strange and inexplicable, and at its best defiantly real. Eugenia walks tightropes, and so does her book: it's an uneasy journey, a dangerous one, but the view (hers, and ours) is beautiful. I'm glad I was pointed towards this book, and recommend it in turn.

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