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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


 Roses called "Ophelia" .... the lady floating, dying in the lake .... choking on the beautiful flowers of the field
Rose:  Madame Laurette....or laurarette....a tie around the throat, perhaps?  Beautiful but deadly????

"Swallow"  A Novel  by Tanya Plank

     Tanya Plank is a fantastic writer of the young, priviledged, slightly disturbed and disoriented New York professionals. She's the voice of the over-educated, preppie, ivy-leagued-to-the-max, "now what do I do to one-up everyone" generation. She "gets it" and she's telling!!   LOL

     I thought her author's voice--her book was hilarious and riveting! It helps to know these Harvard-types she writes about, but I think anyone can understand a pompous person when they see or hear one...or read about them. Her characterizations are golden. Sophie, the swallower in question, is a loveable and genuine young woman for whom I immediately took a liking. I was on her side right away and kept by her like a glove to her hand throughout her struggles and humorous/humiliating revelations.

     Tanya is right on in her dialog and descriptions; particularly in her scene at the fancy art show with Sophie's fiance's Harvard friend, Alana. Oooo, as slick and slimy as they come in a tightly wrapped ivy package. As well as with Sophie's own would-be friend, Samia, who keeps referencing herself and Sophie as "when you're young," as if to say she is now so mature and beyond it all--and that living and working in New York for even a short time has jaded and matured them like hot house roses....which it may, in fact, have done. At the very least it's caused Sophie to choke, hasn't it?

     It's caused Sophie to revisit a childhood dysfunction...a fist-sized ball (FB) that blocks her esophagus and causes her to choke, actually not being able to swallow anything but tiny bits of food, drink or even her own saliva. Sophie is struck again by her swallowing FB shortly after her boyfriend proposes, and prior to a big Public Defender's Office advocacy case that she must orally present before a presumably hostile, multiple Justice panel.

     Sophie is diagnosed with a psychological problem called Globus Sensate, but not before it has run amock within the strictly held confines of her fragile life. Sophie's secrets of the pornographer father, the wacky sister who pops in to humiliate and horrify...and the fiance' who can't believe his eyes, ears and understanding about the FB!!!...all make for a fun ride!!

     I loved Tanya Plank's book. I loved NYC through the eyes of the Arizona girl and the Yalie mix. I loved the story through the words of a choking, swallowing dysfunctional lawyer!!! LOL What could be better than the image of a poor lawyer who can bearly talk for choking on her words! (with apologies to my sons)

     This is a wild and fun romp full of satire, symbolism and insight into the lives of the educationally priviledged and spoiled vs the "real" people. It's a look into the workings of the public defender's life and the big city lawyer's mindset. It's a glance at the young bucks and brave girls who come to Town with all the credentials and hautier but missing some of the heart and raw bones of real life. And, a look at the other young "brave ones" who come hoping to make a difference against some mighty odds that aren't in their favor.

     This is a book that's easy to swallow. Though, I have to admit, I suffered with Sophie when she was having problems swallowing. I felt myself closing up. I found myself putting my hand to my throat and getting a smothering feeling and practicing swallowing, myself. That's how good Tanya Plank is at writing!

     You have to get this book. Ms Plank is going to be heard from again, and you're going to be listening and loving her!! Just like I do.

With Warmest Regards,  I Remain,

Your Bookish Dame/ Deb

PS:  My husband and I were once having dinner with a couple (very prestigeous clients) at the Harvard Club in Boston. (His Club, not ours.  My husband (ex- was) a Dartmouth man)  Suddenly, the woman began to turn reddish and she had a semi-panicked look about the eyes.  I asked if she was okay.  She smiled and nodded yes.
I continued to watch....soon she began to show sure signs of distress...but we were in the Harvard Club, after all....and choking on one's food is really a big faux paux...not "the done thing!"   I finally could take it no longer, and singing out in an interruption of our husbands' very important conversation, I warbled, "Help!  She's choking!!"  She began to shake her head "no!" It seemed I'd created more distress.  But, by now she was really turning blue and couldn't talk. 
Her husband looked around, looked at her, and said she was fine.  My husband got up and called the maitre d'...whom her husband quickly brushed away.  Meanwhile, she's turning more blue and really can't breathe.  Now she's making cat with the hairball sounds. But, you know, appearances and all that taking precedence, it was a gamble of life over looks at that point.
Her husband lifted her from her chair and she stumbled gracefully to the foyer where she began to cough a few times while he patted her on the back.  He bent her double.  Out flew a HUGE slice of filet mignon which had not been chewed...just swallowed, or not....whole.   She wrapped it up like a wet, new born mouse. Yuck!

They returned to the table as if nothing had happened and she sipped at her drink daintily.  Meanwhile, I practically fainted from lack of breathing in sympathy!!!  But, there again,  I'm a Carolina girl with roots in Boston, and she was just a Jersey girl with roots unknown.   I had nothing to prove and I chew my food.



nice review. and i love you added an excerpt t hat helps alot with my decision if i wanted to get it or not =)

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