Saturday, September 15, 2007

Polly, by Amy Bryant

Polly tells her romantic and sexual biography from early teen years through early college, detailing her eight most significant relationships (some good, some not) and her parallel interest in music and art. Her relationship with her mother and step-father play a minor role, but the focus is definitely on Polly's development as a person as she struggles through the minefields of teen romance.

Strikingly realistic, one suspects that this is autobiography. It certainly rings true for the era (which I can say with some authority as I am nearly the same age as Polly the character and I grew up in the same area). And the details of the relationships and what she goes through will also ring true.

I understand that writers should write about what they know, but I have to take Bryant to task for not attempting to pull her story out of its era. Even with the strong interest in 80s hardcore punk, a more enterprising writer could have pulled the story into a more contemporary context. To really measure if Bryant is a good writer, I'd like to see her tackle less familiar territory (and with her bio saying that she now is writing short stories about life in NYC -- where she happens to live now -- I don't get the sense that she can grow). As a result, I'll give this novel a mixed review (realistic, interesting, but ultimately a lazy autobiographic exercise).

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