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Roxanne Reviews "Avalon"

Roxanne reviews Avalon by Nell Zink

Avalon will be my go to selection for customers who come into BookStore1 and don’t want anything too dark, but still want higher level vocabulary and ideas.

Zink is an intellectual’s delight, part of the uber-smart brat pack made up of Jonathan Franzen and the late great genius David Foster Wallace. To read her, you must be sponge ready, having Google on hand to look up obscure phrases, quotes and historical references. As a retired English teacher who misses school, this novel was a joy.

In Avalon, Zink tackles the life of an abandoned teen living on a sketchy landscaping farm in Southern California. While being emotionally abused by her ‘caretakers’/employer, she fortunately falls in with high schoolers in higher socio-economic status who watch over her and eventually bring her into a more normal fold. But normal is relative, especially in Southern California.

Zink does a good job describing the long distance romance that Brandy falls into with Peter, the most Mensa character of all. Zink employs an interesting technique of showing what Brandy does not understand of Peter’s constant references, a rare glimpse at an experience we’ve all had of trying to follow a brilliant person’s lightning fast associations.

While the pandemic is never mentioned, the discussions about fascist society, free will, etc. loom large in the subject matter. Zink also writes paradisiacal descriptive stretches of California State Route 1, including Big Sur, Moss Landing and Point Lobos.

If you’d like some meat in your reading without angst, check out Nell Zink’s Avalon.

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