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Vilja Reads

I'm a student, so I don't have nearly as much time for leisure reading as I'd like. If I manage to read an entire course book instead of just the assigned chapters, I'll review that here, too.

The Song Is You: A Novel

The Song is You - Megan Abbott Noir is right.

The main character of the book, Gil Hopkins, is a studio "fixer" tidying up scandals. Hop is flawed to the point of being unlikable. He manifests vanity, entitlement, dishonesty, and a genial sort of amorality which makes him friends with everyone but also ready to screw over anyone - and to let them screw themselves over. He doesn't rescue people unless there's something in it for him. He sets out to find out the truth about the starlet whose body was never found, not because he is devoted to justice, but to cover up tracks for Hollywood big names, though on occasion he seems to be unsure himself why he is doing all this digging.

He tells himself he's "not that kind of guy" - not someone who will hit a woman, not someone cruel or without compassion - but it's pretty clear that he is exactly "that kind of guy". It's too much trouble for him even to stop a girl from leaving with a sadistic rapist.

And here's the big red letter warning text: Do not read this book unless you are ready to deal with 40s-50s attitude towards rape. Holy cow. I don't think the word "rape" even appears anywhere in the text, but it's all over it, all the slimier for not being named. Early on a starlet tells Hop the story of how she was raped at age 14, and Hop figures this is a story intended to arouse, and it works. The woman even calls it her "first time". In this novel, rape is simply sex, and is treated as if it was as much the woman's fault as not. Hop has (consensual) sex with practically every woman he meets but no-one so much as calls him a horndog, but the women who use sex to get ahead or be a part of the scene are all "hard-bitten whores". I honestly can't tell if the author was trying to make a point about dated attitudes towards women and sex, or if she finds rape sexy and the attitudes comfortable, but it's safe to say I will not pick up another Megan Abbott book.

Still, three stars, because the genre was spot-on (to an uncomfortable degree) and the writing had a pleasant, interesting flow (non-uniform chapters broken into digestable pieces), and because Hop's sordid character was painted in such vivid detail.