Cheryl Anne Gardner's Reviews > On The Bitch

On The Bitch by Matt Potter
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really liked it

Old friends spending the weekend at a beach house, and we all know where this is going because we’ve all had a few of these friends over the years. The friends that wax nostalgic every single time you are together. The friends that are so stuck in the ‘glory days’ that it seems as if the only thing you have in common with them anymore is the shared history, and there’s differing opinion on the history at that.

On The Bitch starts off in that mode, with friends excited to spend the weekend together, or are they? The dialog is thin, stilted: basically polite, painfully banal, and awkward to read. Much like the friendship between these people. A friendship that, as we get further into the story, seems more obligation than anything else. Even the sex scenes are uncomfortable to the nth degree. I might use the term ‘going through the motions’ to describe just about every vignette, motions that should be accompanied by Ambien and Prozac cocktails served every hour on the hour.

It’s one of those scenarios where everyone is struggling with their own internal melodrama so no one really says what they mean. Even the most honest of admissions are fashioned into sarcastic jibes and accusatory pokes and prods. We always think that farce and facade are for the young trying to find themselves, but they aren’t. The older you get, the more dug in, the harder it is to be honest with yourself, with anyone. Hopefully you’ve got friends with enough integrity to kick you in the teeth, call a spade a spade, and give you a reality check. I think the most telling part in the book comes early on when Kendalynn is putting salt on her grapefruit as she extols the virtues of salt being more refreshing than sugar until “Magda licks a finger, dips it in the saltcellar, and licks the tip with her tongue. “Sugar,” she says, looking over at the kitchen. “Your supermarket sells you sugar, Kendalynn, but names it salt. They should pay you a refund.”

I’m familiar with Matt Potter’s work, even provided one of the writing prompts for this book. On The Bitch is a collection of vintage snapshots: faded, grainy, most of the color washed out. It’s a read beyond the lines type of story, and this line pretty much sums up the absurdity of these people: “Oh good,” Kendalynn cuts in, reading from her ‘magazine’. “Apparently if you stand next to a cow it’s very slimming.”

Apparently, for Kendalynn, the term magazine is used rather loosely to define shopping catalogs, where she circles all the purple things she wants with a purple pen, while Otto, her husband prefers to remain more or less transparent throughout the entire weekend. He says he stopped thinking when he retired, but he might have actually stopped breathing.

On The Bitch is an identity crisis story: a couple of people with barely anything holding their friendship together struggle to figure out who they are and where they belong at this point in their lives. They are rude and obtuse, and the narrator prefers to deflect his attention onto every single miniscule and trivial thing from the Titanium-like TV remote to the orgy-sized pantry (whatever that means) to the beef roast that isn’t a lamb roast. He’d focus on Magda’s nether-regional excretions, her blue eyes and blonde hair, and even his friend’s daughter’s breasts to avoid focusing that attention inward. It hurts to look at the real issues when mid-life is bearing down upon you. It hurts more when you don’t feel like anyone is listening, and “as the door clicks shut on this story, our narrator is left to contemplate the ceiling and the morning and the rest of his life.” Just like we all have to one day, when we decide to finally wave it all past us. “Wave in big arcs of neighborliness. So big we almost sprain our shoulders.”

I just love that line.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
April 10, 2018 – Finished Reading
April 11, 2018 – Shelved
April 11, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read

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