Looking Backwards: Books

One of the most important books I read this year

At some point this spring I read an article in Bomb magazine on Clarice Lispector. In the article, the author asks: "How can we account for the lapse between experience and perception? Can we ever experience the present, or will we only ever experience the memory of it? Who am I Now if I can only ever know myself in the past?"

The article was provocative to me. I was totally floored by its intelligence, but instead of going home and reading Clarice Lispector, I went home and read absolute everything I could about and by the article's author, Sarah Gerard.

It just so happens that early-on in 2015 Gerard released her first novel, Binary Star. Unable to buy the novel anywhere in town, I order it online and anxiously awaited for it to arrive. When it did, I read it over the course of two days.

The book explores the perverse gravity of being young and idealistic but deeply and debilitatingly damaged. The characters, a boy and a girl, never named, road trip hoping to put distance between themselves and their problems but forever find themselves in the thick of them. The two are familiar to me; they listen to Gather and talk animal liberation. Just the same, their individual suffering (eating disorders, alcoholism) is equally, uncomfortably familiar, something most young people have watched their peers struggle with.

Just as Gerard treated Lispector in the article which introduced me to her, so she treats the issues in Binary Star, with incredible precision of language and eerie and affecting detail. As a sucker for end-of-the-year lists and "best ofs" I'm pleased to see Binary Star on a few. This book- haunting and familiar and thought-provoking- should be more widely read.