Morgan's Reviews > Woman's World

Woman's World by Graham Rawle
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's review
Jul 27, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: experimental-fiction, contemporary-fiction, mystery
Read in June, 2009

This book amazed me. It's written entirely from passages snipped verbatim from 1960s women's magazines, and reconstructed cut-and-paste style into a novel-length work of fiction. I love multimedia art, particularly when it involves remaking magazines into something they weren't originally intended to be, so I was initially curious about Woman's World on that level. Happily, it turned out to be more than just an objet d'art: it's a genuinely good story.

I was taken in enough by the mystery element that it took me some time to figure out precisely what was going on -- which I always appreciate, since predictable stories (especially mysteries) aren't usually that much fun to read. The characters were sympathetic to just the right degree, and drew me in immediately. And the writing style was surprisingly readable. Rawle's authorial voice comes through in spite of (or perhaps, bolstered by) his choice to construct his story out of pre-existing sentences, and I often forget I was reading a book written like a ransom note. And when the odd sentence did jar me into remembering that I was reading a book that's as much a multimedia experiment as a novel, I found it worked to the story's advantage. It grounded me in the era in which the story was taking place, and in the protagonist's worldview, so deeply informed by these magazines.

I don't think I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone. But if you don't mind a little experimental fiction mixed in with your mystery, or vice versa, Woman's World is worth a look.

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