Written by: Elizabeth Hand
The premise: Cassandra Neary got her fifteen minutes of fame in the seventies by photographing the burgeoning punk movement, the dark side of life, and the dead. She got art galleries and a book deal, and then shortly thereafter, her life went to hell. Thirty years later, she's a nothing, a nobody, an addict who cares for no one. But when she gets a chance to interview the photographer who was her inspiration, Cass takes the job, hoping to jump start her career. What she finds instead is a very small town with a decades-old mystery that's still going strong, and if she's not careful, she's going to get lost in it.
Buy the Paperback: my general rule of hardcovers is that unless you're a DIE-HARD FAN of the author and/or one of those book collectors that must have first editions of everything you read and/or one of those readers who think that anything that isn't published in hardcover isn't worth your time, unless you're one of these types, you're better off getting a cheaper copy. In this case, I would've been perfectly happy spending the cash on the trade, but I took advantage of the first edition hardcover because my husband falls in group two and tends to fall in group three and he was there when I made the purchase. ANYWAY: it's a good read, especially if you let the idea of dark, magical realism fuel the tension of the prose, because it keeps you from really guessing what's going on and why, and it adds an extra element of mystery to everything that happens. The book never really SAYS there's something supernatural involved, and in truth, reading it as straight, realistic fiction (that's got a mystery) is probably more legit than my dark, magical realism reading. At any rate, the prose is solid, and Cass Neary is a character that makes you work hard to like her, but in the end, the voice pulled me through, as well as Cass's unique perspective on the world. I love how the art of photography is used to describe Cass's world, even when she isn't talking about her trade. The ending was a little unsatisfying for me, but I enjoy Hand's writing very much (in fact, I really like how the setting really permeates the prose) and will definitely look for more of her work, both past and future (after all, I still have to get my hands on Waking the Moon).
Review style: I'll be honest, I finished this book last weekend and I'm still trying to figure out how to review the sucker. I don't feel I have much to talk about, so I'm going to revert to my usual stream-of-conscious reaction to the text that usually ends up in spoilers.
The full, spoilered review as well as cover art commentary, may be found in my LJ. As always, comments and discussion are most welcome.
REVIEW: Elizabeth Hand's GENERATION LOSS
Happy Reading! :)