Justin Matott's Reviews > Twins

Twins by Marcy Dermansky
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Sep 09, 08

Read in January, 2006

A review I did for the Rocky Mtn News

Author's background: Dermansky's short stories have appeared in numerous publications, including McSweeney's. She's a film critic for About.com and lives in Astoria, NY.

Plot in a nutshell: Twins Chloe and Sue tell their story in alternating voices, both struggling in very different ways with two-times the identity issues most teenagers face.

Chloe, the "golden" twin, is the object of Sue's obsession. Sue seethes in her growing stew of both worship and hatred of her sister. Sue is defiant, angry, anti-social and thinks "they" should be everything each other needs, excluding family, friends and any activities that may disturb their sanctuary relationship. As Chloe starts to move out socially, Sue acts out in bizarre ways. Chloe wants desperately to establish her own identity, causing Sue to increase in bizarre behavior.

The story includes the twins' rich, detached, divorcing lawyer parents, who treat them interchangeably; a manipulative, aspiring and spoiled model; her famous basketball star father who takes an interest in Chloe; troublemaking boyfriends, and college students who add an unexpected dimension to Sue's life. Through the twins' journey toward adulthood, they strangely find their own "voices" by actually becoming interchangeable in some ways.

Sample of prose: (Sue): "School...had always been a disaster for me. I was in preschool the first time I got in trouble, for trying to color orange spots on the class hamster with a Magic Marker. But Chloe had always liked it. She had always been a Goody Two-shoes, climbing onto our kindergarten teacher's lap during story time. I hated school more than I hated Chloe. Kids called me queer because I liked to wear men's extra-large shirts. The kids sucked, the teachers sucked, the homework sucked."

Author reminds me of: Go Ask Alice's diary entries and the dysfunctional relationships on the HBO series Six Feet Under - compelling, dark and like a traffic accident that you try to look away from, only to find your gaze returning with odd fascination.

Best reason to read: This well-written book gives readers a voyeuristic, insiders' glimpse into the lives of not only twins, but teenagers. Though at times uncomfortable, the novel is comically and darkly entertaining.

-Justin Matott
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