The Trick is to Keep Breathing

All week I’ve struggled to get past the first few pages of Janice Galloway’s The Trick is to Keep Breathing. As someone who is ordinarily attuned to the emotional states of women, and frankly drawn towards individuals who play to the dark side, I’m still at a loss here. Almost sixty pages in and the emotional fragility of the narrator is well established. She is compulsively cleaning and scrubbing her kitchen. She lingers in the bed. There are fragments of what may be thoughts on a lost lover. So where is the pull? Am I just unable at this point in life to devote time to a novel that seems devoted to singular navel gazing? Now, I like introspection, characters who are deeply conflicted and spend pages and pages inside themselves figuring out who and why they are. What is it about this nameless woman that I’m finding dull as tombs? It just may be the various devices Galloway uses to create that post-modern feel. Snippets of newspaper articles with optimistic sales phrases to counter the narrator’s dark mood. That sort of thing, and it’s tiring. Argh, the obvious — trick is to keep reading.

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