Gerhard's Reviews > Binary Star

Binary Star by Sarah Gerard
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really liked it
bookshelves: 2015, literary-fiction

Mmm, this is a strange one. Deeply affecting, Gerard’s pared-down prose – single lines, fragments, lists, snippets – makes for bruising reading. I was fascinated at how these two deeply damaged individuals emerge from the deconstructed text as two whole characters I came to care about deeply (and let us not forget Dog).

The sex scenes are particularly unpleasant, involving pain and degradation … but I suppose this is precisely Gerard’s point: that this dysfunctional couple’s self-destruction inevitably spills over to each other. Does that even make sense?

At the end though I was unsure if Gerard is actually championing ‘veganarchism’, or is highlighting the plight of bulimics and anorexics in general. In her Acknowledgements, she states: ‘And to all who have struggled and continue to struggle with food: keep fighting. There is a world for you’.

To me, this seems a pretty ambiguous comment on bulimia / anoxeria. Is Gerard conflating bulimia / anorexia with eco-terrorism? (This is definitely indicated by the ending, where the female narrator is painted with the soft tragic light of martyrdom).

Or is Gerard being satiric? The trouble with such pared-down prose is that it makes it very difficult to convey any sense of irony; I also felt that the rather endless astronomy metaphors run counter-intuitive to the anti-novel intention here, as they take some explaining, and therefore cause the fractured text to congeal in places.

Another unresolved issue here is the privileged position of the main couple, who the reader cannot help but feel are so fucked up largely because they do not have to worry about mundane things like paying bills or the grind of a daily job.

Nevertheless, I quite admire Gerard’s chutzpah here, as this must have been a real bitch to write. Conventional wisdom has it that the simplest writing is the hardest, so imagine how difficult that must be when you parse a novel down to this level, so that it hovers on the edge of intelligibility and coherence.

And then you must still draw your readers in or, as in this case, create a negative space with its own gravitational attraction so that that your readers are sucked in (and then spat out at the end of the experience). Difficult and uncomfortable as this book may be, it remains a finely crafted work of art.
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Quotes Gerhard Liked

Sarah Gerard
“People don’t like it when their beliefs are challenged, John. They’re fragile enough already.”
Sarah Gerard, Binary Star

Sarah Gerard
“I am becoming in coming undone. I unbind. I rise like the morning: revolution.”
Sarah Gerard, Binary Star

Sarah Gerard
“You’re wearing a leather belt.
I had this before I went vegan. It would be disrespectful to the cow if I threw it away.”
Sarah Gerard, Binary Star
tags: vegan


Reading Progress

April 11, 2015 – Started Reading
April 11, 2015 – Shelved
April 11, 2015 –
35.0%
April 12, 2015 – Shelved as: 2015
April 12, 2015 – Finished Reading
March 15, 2019 – Shelved as: literary-fiction

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