Anne's Reviews > On The Bitch

On The Bitch by Matt Potter
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This playful novella from Australian writer, editor, and teacher Matt Potter is a study in how to fashion a cohesive narrative from a collection of writing prompts. In the end notes, Potter explains his process of generating chapters for On the Bitch from random thematic prompts he solicited from friends. He wrote 250- to 500-word responses to each, then selected which to include as the larger story evolved and took shape. It works.

For example, Potter’s friend Gill Hoffs provided a one-word prompt: glass. From this came one character’s quirkiest habit: use of a gadget called the Zapper! She walks up and down the beach zapping sand with blasts of electricity, forming glass.

The framework of On the Bitch is summed up in its tagline: Five adults, one beach house, and a very long weekend…. It’s broken into sections for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Potter fills it with five idiosyncratic and memorable characters.

The focus of the story is Hugh, an Australian ESL instructor full of middle-aged aches and pains, who has been called home from Germany, to sort out his mother’s home and possessions. Hugh brings his German girlfriend Magda, a wonderfully odd and honest creation. She’s quite the tiger in the sack, travels with a full-sized clothes iron, and buys as-seen-on-tv gadgets without apology or guile.

The weekend is populated with Hugh and Magda, guests at Hugh’s successful friend Otto’s beach house. Otto’s young trophy wife Kendalynn plays hostess, and the fur really starts to fly when Otto’s combative adult daughter, Valerie, arrives unexpectedly to join them just to get on her father’s nerves.

The book is an enjoyable, fast read. My only complaint is a silly one: the title of the book cracks me up, but it’s written in such a in-yer-face, 200-point font that I found myself wanting to keep the cover hidden when out it public. Although whenever I did slip up and the title was on display, I was asked by strangers what on earth the book was about. Hah hah.

The novella focuses on Hugh’s judgy observations of his friends, but in the end it is Magda who sees the truth of the full situation, and Hugh’s role in it. So, snark and laughs aside, there is a good universal and truthful storyline threading it all together.

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Reading Progress

August 8, 2018 – Started Reading
August 9, 2018 – Finished Reading
August 11, 2018 – Shelved

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