Book Review: Nell Zink’s Brilliant Mislaid. Authors can’t be tried for killing off their own characters, but there’s something nonchalant about the way Nell Zink bumps hers off.
In the first line of her first novel, The Wallcreeper, the narrator, Tiffany, miscarries after the car her husband’s driving strikes the bird that gives the book its title. The bird becomes a house pet, and the couple name him after Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy Führer. They decide to send him back into the wild with a chip in his back, and on the next page, we see a hawk eating the wallcreeper’s heart out of its chest. Later, on a bird-watching trip in the Balkans, the husband is revealed to have a heart condition and within a few pages keels over dead. Scientists' Nightstand: David Quammen. Greg Ross David Quammen's science writing has appeared in National Geographic, Harper's, Rolling Stone and the New York Times Book Review.
His latest book is The Reluctant Mr. Darwin (W. W. Norton, $22.95). Could you tell us a bit about yourself? I'm a nonfiction writer, specializing in science, who began my professional life as a novelist. What books are you currently reading (or have you just finished reading) for your work or for pleasure? For pleasure I'm presently reading Stephen Greenblatt's Will in the World (W. When and where do you usually read (specific location, time of day, etc.)? I read work-related books in the early morning, before starting to write, and non-work reading over a martini in the evening, and at bedtime for the 20 minutes before my eyelids grind shut like an electric garage door.
Who are your favorite writers (fiction, nonfiction or poetry)? William Faulkner has been the central and defining author in my literary and intellectual life. Nell Zink's Feminist Epic 'Mislaid' Examines The Sacrifices Of Marriage. The women in Nell Zink’s books may not live in bell jars, but they might as well.
Her debut novel, The Wallcreeper -– which made a splash thanks to an unabashedly violent plot peppered with hilarious quips -– centers on Tiffany, a young newlywed whose been rushed off to Berne, Switzerland, where isolation and boredom lead to strange affairs. Her latest story, Mislaid, features heroine Peggy, who leaves her small Southern town for college hoping to discover sexual freedom, but winds up with a similarly lonely fate after having a child with a famous poet, who prefers men but isn't comfortable making his orientation public. With these books, Zink boldly rejects the idea that feeling trapped within a marriage is old-fashioned. Her characters, though modern and sophisticated, struggle to find themselves amid the commitments that come with romantic relationships.
Your books feature characters who are shaped by the strictures of their marriage. The Open Notebook – A Day in the Life of David Quammen. David Quammen is an award-winning science, nature and travel writer.
He is a contributing editor at National Geographic and the author of numerous books, the most recent of which is Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic. He lives in Bozeman, Montana. Follow David on Twitter @DavidQuammen. David Quammen What I’m working on: I’m catching up on my duties to National Geographic, after having spent most of last year on my book Spillover. Where I work: Field research: I work in remote places all over the world—quite often tropical forests, swamps, mountains, savannas, deserts.
Daily routine: If I’m home and in the writing phase of a project: Up around 7:00 a.m., coffee, handful of fruit, a bit of work-related reading to let my brain get going; then I spend a couple hours revising the first-draft pages from yesterday. Most productive part of my day: Most essential ritual or habit: Mobile device: Nell Zink’s The Wallcreeper – Dorothy. “Who is Nell Zink?
She claims to be an expatriate living in northeast Germany. Maybe she is; maybe she isn’t. I don’t know. I do know that this first novel arrives with a voice that is fully formed: mature, hilarious, terrifyingly intelligent, and wicked. The novel is about a bird-loving American couple that moves to Europe and becomes, basically, eco-terrorists. Excerpts from The Wallcreeper are available in n+1 and at Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading (where you can also learn how the book came to Dorothy). “Nell Zink’s heady and rambunctious debut novel . . . moves at breakneck speed . . . “[A]n instrument of delight, an offering of kinship. “Peppered with witty one-liners, Zink’s portrayal of a young American couple that moves to Europe is strange, hilarious, and utterly captivating.” harpers bazaar “A hundred and ninety pages and zero chapter breaks, the book sounds like nothing you have ever read, and derives its bang from ideas you hadn’t thought to have.”