Tuesday, February 20, 2007
My second novel by Scarlett Thomas. I find Thomas engrossing; novels are for her ways to think out loud about ideas, though she is also quite interested in people. This one focuses on Alice Butler, the disaffected employee of PopCo, the third largest toy company in the world. What quantum theory was to The End of Mr. Y cryptography is to PopCo, and both have plots too strange and meandering to describe. I think the quality that appeals to me most in Thomas' writing is (this will sound strange) her self-forgiveness. She is thirty-five and on her seventh novel, a track record that makes sense given the suffusing quality of play and permissiveness in her work. I don't mean that she's a bad or a sloppy writer, and I'm sure she works like a demon. I just mean that one can feel the absence of a censoring angel sitting on her shoulder; somewhere along the way she gave herself permission to write and write and write (though for all I know she may have to fight every day to retain that permission) and it makes her books a pleasure to spend time in.