Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Review: Mrs. Somebody Somebody

This collection focuses on the lives of women living in the industrial city of Lowell, Massachusetts over the course of the twentieth century. These women cross the boundaries of age, race, and economics, but what they share is a feeling of marginalization and disempowerment. Each of them is trying, in one way or another, to make a place for themselves in the world, to prove that their existence matters. As it turns out, their place in the world is determined by their relationships to men. They aspire to be Mrs. Somebody Somebody, but those who fall outside this paradigm slip through the cracks. In style and substance this book reminded me of Donald Ray Pollock's Knockemstiff, disempowered people scattered throughout a small town. That said, the tone of Winn's work is softer, and less ragged than Pollock's. While the characters do find themselves in desperate situations, their lives still seem less ravaged. A glimmer of hope remains.

Tracy Winn, Mrs. Somebody Somebody (Random House, 2010) ISBN: 0812981456