Have you ever come across a book that is a few years old, but suddenly you hear lots of talk about it? That’s what happened to me with Kate Zambreno’s Green Girl. Some friends recommended I read it and then I came across it in Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.
Ruth is a young American woman living in London. She sells perfume in Horrids (her name for it). Her days are spent spritzing people with Desire. Her nights are spent trying to find her way in the world; navigating her way through anxiety, friendships, relationships, nights out that involve drinking too much and the male gaze. More importantly, Ruth is desperately trying to make sense of the space between where she is now and what she deems to be proper adulthood.
I think I came to Green Girl too late. If I read it in my teens or early 20s I imagine it would have affected me in the same way that Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, Jean Rhys’ Good Morning, Midnight and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway did. That visceral and sometimes gut wrenching way that leads me to re-read those books regularly even though I know them inside out, yet, I am always drawn in as if discovering them for the first time.
Don’t get me wrong, Zambreno is a talented writer and Green Girl is worth adding to your to-read list. It’s just that it unexpectedly hit on something I have been thinking a lot about lately; how the time, place and state of mind you are in plays a part in the reaction you have to novels, films and music. I may save that thought for another blog post.