The Mars Room is the second book I've read on the Man Booker award shortlist. I had read Kushner's first book The Flamethrowers and hated it. I don't think I finished it. This one however is very well-written. It's about a woman, Romy, a past stripper and drug addict who is serving 2 life sentences for murdering her stalker (no spoiler, this is told in the first chapter). She is devastated by the fact she will never see her son again. Along with Romy's story, multiple chapters also tell vignettes about the other characters, ie the teacher at the prison, a corrupt police officer in the men's prison, some of her prison mates and at the end her stalker. It also has multiple excerpts from Ted Kosinki's journal. The writing is so well-done. The characters have deep introspections about life, nature, society but it always flows with the story. Note: there's a good amount of violence and very little hope in this one. Not a pick-me-up at all! If you watched Orange is the New Black you can handle it.
The Mars Room
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About This Item
It’s 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility, deep in California’s Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision.
Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner’s work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined. As James Wood said in The New Yorker, her fiction “succeeds because it is so full of vibrantly different stories and histories, all of them particular, all of them brilliantly alive.”
“Kushner is going to be one we turn to for our serious pleasures and for the insight and wisdom we’ll be needing in hard times to come. She is a novelist of the very first order.” —Robert Stone
“Kushner is a young master. I honestly don’t know how she is able to know so much and convey all of this in such a completely entertaining and mesmerizing way.” —George Saunders
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The Mars Room is the s...
Its hard to live on ...
"It's hard to live on the streets. In prison, you can be someone. Life has order if you know how to do time, and I know. I'm an expert. Living in a tent is a temporary thing. You do it until you go back to prison. That's just how it works." It is 2003, Romy Hall is serving 2 consecutive life sentences, at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility, in California. This story follows, her daily prison life, with impressive detail, it also looks back at her life, before the conviction, working at a strip club called The Mars Room, and glimpses at what led to her crime, which involves a particularly creepy, stalker. The author really seems to have done her research here, diving deep, into the dark, psychological, complexities, of these convicted women, without the usual stereotypical tropes. The writing is deft, and uniformly strong. This was my first novel, by Kushner, and reviews, seems to be mixed, but I was very impressed with it, throughout and look forward to reading more of her work.
Summary: Following the...
Summary: Following the stream-of-consciousness of a few different characters, this is mostly the story of Romy Hall, who is serving two consecutive life sentences in the California State prison system. Kushner's story slips back and forth between the now and the past, so the reader slowly learns about how Ms. Hall ended up where she did. It is a gritty, realistic book that gives a fairly accurate view (as I've heard from prison inmates) of what women's prison is like. My Thoughts: I started listening to this right after it made the Booker Prize shortlist. Although I understand perfectly why it made the shortlist (the writing style is superb), I wasn't overly impressed with the story. Don't get me wrong...I had emotional investment in Ms. Hall, and felt the other characters were realistic and well-written. And I think Kushner achieved exactly what she set out to do: flawlessly executing the stream-of-consciousness style. I was just in the mood for a story with more plot. But this book wasn't about plot. It was a book about character and setting. And the characters and setting were superbly written. So I will still give the book 4 stars, even though it wasn't what I was in the mood for.
I enjoyed reading the ...
I enjoyed reading the different perspectives, Tony's and Gordon's. The diaries of Ted Kaczynski were a nice edition. I am intrigued by women going to prison, so many of them not deserving to be there. In the age of Orange is the New Black hopefully women who deserve to be free will be released. For people who want to read more books like this, especially nonfiction I recommend Out of Orange, Orange is the New Black, & Inside This Place, Not of It. Looking forward to reading more of Kushner's books.
This book tells the st...
This book tells the story of prison. Deeply. Descriptively. Non-judgmentally. There is a rich and moving story of one woman at the center of this multi-vocal depiction of how a variety of people wind up in prison, how most stay there or return, and how a few "escape." In addition to being a first rate fictional narrative, Kushner's book should be required reading for our politicians pretending to address prison reform. (Brian)
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