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The Wallcreeper Paperback – October 1, 2014
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“Nell Zink’s heady and rambunctious debut novel . . . moves at breakneck speed . . . Wake up, this book says: in its plot lines, in its humor, in its philosophical underpinnings and political agenda. I’ll pay it the highest compliment it knows ― this book is a wild thing.” NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"Zink’s debut novel doesn’t need a celebrity blurb...Its premise is so good it endorses itself..." WIRED
“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 brief yet masterful novel of epic breadth.” KIRKUS REVIEW (STARRED REVIEW)
“Zink’s debut novel is a weird, funny, sad, and sharp story of growing up. . . . the introduction of an exciting new voice.” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (STARRED REVIEW)
“Nell Zink might be the best living writer you haven’t heard of yet, but prepare to hear her name a lot.” PAPERMAG
“A strange, funny, super-engaging book.” BUSTLE
“A manic, heartfelt, intellectual novel about an American couple living in Europe, The Wallcreeper is one of the best books of the year.” FICTION ADVOCATE
“It’s a major debut, one that proves its author is gifted, strangely and beguilingly, with no shortage of honesty and eloquence.” FLAVORWIRE
About the Author
Nell Zink was born in 1964 in southern California and grew up in rural Virginia. She attended Stuart Hall School and the College of William and Mary, where she majored in philosophy. Rather late in life she got a doctorate in Media Studies from the University of Tübingen, Germany. She works as a translator for Zeitenspiegel Reportagen and lives in Bad Belzig, south of Berlin. This is her first book.
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Top customer reviews
Readers coming in expecting a brilliant new voice in Fiction, a sharp female voice to refract the world through her writing will be thoroughly disappointed by the outcome. The Wallcreeper starts off real strong. First 45 pages are even entertaining, which helped me to write off the 'quirkiness' of the protagonists, the unnecessary artistic and historical references, and the lack of any character or plot progression.
But man oh man does it only get worse as the novel continues. What at first seemed like a broken marriage was really just two incompetently written caricatures attempting a semblance of charactership. Nobody, not in this world, speaks, behaves, or thinks like either Tiffany or Stephen. What are these things? What person, let alone your husband, is more concerned with a bird in the road than your concussion and now-miscarried pregnancy? That's the first page--I should've caught on sooner.
Her paranthetical additions are consistently terrible. A phrase that is repeated throughout the book is introduced through these lines: "'Breeding and feeding,' Stephen called their lifestyle [the birds], making them sound like sex-obsessed gluttons (that is, human beings)..." THANKS FOR THE ELBOW IN THE RIBS, NELL.
Her references, as I mentioned earlier, are always inappropriate and completely contextless. It won't help to quote a few out of context given that, but I'll give one of the most egregious: "He was silent for three minutes, as long as the minutes of silence that pepper the conversations in Women In Love by D.H. Lawrence and finally said..." Most are less visible than that but all are pointless and masturbatory.
To mention that the protagonist is a vapid whore would be redundant, as the narrator does it herself: "But to right-thinking Germans, I was a mindless whore, and historically I had never felt more normal than in the company of other mindless whores (e.g., Elvis)." Yes, her marriage is flawed from the beginning; yes, her husband is just as zany!!1! and free as her; but for god's sake, stop having sex with every single man you meet. If she doesn't bang the dude, she thinks about banging him. If she does bang him, she immediately tires of him but continues having sex with him. She has sex with Elvis, she thinks about having sex with Stephen's coworkers, she wants to have sex with strangers she meets.
I made it to page 101. That's all I could do. The 'vivid and continuous dream' that John Gardner implores all fiction writers to strive for broke off about 30 pages before then and after that I stopped seeing any of the story.
I started the review off sharing my frustration with the book. I wanted to like it! And I even did, up to a point. But boy does she try hard to stagnate the characters, the plot--the writing even takes a hit as the novel continues (I wouldn't say progresses, it does anything but and without that intention). I don't know what readers would enjoy this book. I would assume the audience was for readers of literary fiction who can chance a new writer in the field. Here's my advice: don't.