Book Review: Escape by Zoje Stage | Literary arts | Pittsburgh



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Photo: Courtesy of Alyssa Persons

blanket run away Zojé scene

run awayA new novel from Pittsburgh writer Zoje Stage is a psychological thriller that places its protagonist and readers in the heart of the Grand Canyon, a place once described as awe-inspiring beauty and a sharp death trap.

But while taking place in the Grand Canyon, he handled the tree of life shooting when 11 congregations were killed at a designated synagogue on October 27, 2018 in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Like an anti-Semitic hate crime that takes advantage of the stage struggle to be done.

Stage says he wrote this as the first scene in his book to deal with what happened.

“Even now, when you go up to Squalel Hill, there are still trees and the Star of David hanging from the parking meter,” explains Stage. Last month. I understand why they were there. They were a very respectful sign and the people really supported the community. But for me, it was the opportunity to see him. ”

This novel follows our main character, Imogen. Imogen is a writer who fell into the doldrums in second grade of a sophomore novel. Imogen was invited by her sister Beck and her ex-girlfriend Tilda to the Canyon after surviving a traumatic event.

On the first page of run away, I realized I was already in an uncomfortable place. The traumatic event that Imogen survives in is essentially a fictional version of the Tree of Life shooting, with moments that set it apart from the events of the day, but in general it is explained quite close to the tragedy. I am.

Start run away This poses a problem for me as a reader. When creating a storyline based on real events, there is a risk that the fiction created as a writer collides with reality. The rest of the book, the horror it tries to create, the horror and the horror, are all pale compared to the actual events it is based on. I was trapped in the memory of October 27, 2018 and couldn’t get out of it and delve into the rest of the book.

The synopsis and teaser for the book indicate that when Imogen, Beck, and Tilda arrive in the canyon, they realize they’re not the only ones. I wondered what they had encountered as it led me to half of the book where they encountered what they were following.

I was wondering, is this something supernatural? Is he an ax murderer? Is it a wild animal? All of these possibilities ran through my head until I met a man named Gale, the villain of the story. Gail followed the women on most trips. What feels like meeting a seemingly harmless but unwanted guest is a complete battle for their lives.

Gail was found to have fled the police after being arrested for regular traffic blackouts and shooting police officers. Part of her motive is to avoid going back to prison, others are trying to meet her daughter. He reaches the canyon on his way to her and begins a deadly standoff between himself, Imogen, Beck, and Tilda.

Of all the women, Imogen seems to be the most sympathetic to Gale when she hears it. Although he always referred to Tilda as “Mexican” and used a homosexual insult to refer to Beck, Imogen says the American criminal justice system eats people, reforms, changes and grows. He declares that he leaves no room for.

The scene describes his approach to writing Gale as trying to make Gale more than a monster.

“My real pleasure in writing a novel is that there is an openly evil character. This character seems like a person who can never empathize. And when I try to create them in layers. , “Oh, there are times like, ‘Oh, that person might not be 100% evil,’ Stage says.” And when we write someone in a particular way, that’s a completely different perspective of what it means. If we knew them on a more intimate level, we would do them. And I think Imogen is sometimes related to the nature of her imagination and the way she works, but she gets out a bit. from the edge trying to feel a connection with him. increase. ”

I like good, complex characters. But something about Gale’s characterization didn’t suit me. Imogen struggled to see him as a human being, but in the end, he’s just the Boogeyman women meet to get stronger. Maybe as a reader I am as naive as Imogen who wants to see the humanity of someone, especially someone who is a victim of the criminal justice system. But all of Gale’s moves seem to stray from the character of someone who doesn’t want to go back to jail. From shooting a police officer to taking three women hostage, when he was able to visit his daughter and granddaughter doing what he was trying to do, he made things worse for himself. I did.

Suffering from being a survivor of this shooting, Imogen is also traumatized by the secrets she has kept for years. It gradually became clear that what she still calls “The Thing” was a sexual assault in college by Tilda’s boyfriend at the time. “The Thing” surprised Imogen so much that she couldn’t even call it that until her sister Beck brought her into the canyon.

As a reader, I couldn’t help but wonder why the sexual assault wasn’t traumatic enough for Imogen. Why did she have to be a shooting survivor and a victim of sexual assault? If I wanted to make Imogen a survivor of something else, did I need to bring up the filming of the Tree of Life?

It is true that people can survive multiple traumatic events in life, but in novels and movies I am strong and I have letting the female protagonist go to hell and “strengthen” her. It is common to make people understand that they are capable. Finally, I wondered how much suffering from Imogen was needed.

I had some trouble finishing the book, but I have to give it some stage flowers for the prose, especially as the novel nears. The final battle scene between Imogen and Gale is ghostly and eerie. In the case of a book that I thought I lost to myself, the scene really set me back.

Stage says the scene is still crawling on her skin and considers it to be one of the most disturbing things that happens in the book.

run away Partly about the harm done by men and the victims they leave behind. Seeing men in power hurting women over and over again, especially women, is a powerful and necessary quest.

run away It’s definitely a thriller, but as the scene says, there are a lot of psychological games being played, especially with women spending most of their books with prisoners. You wonder when and if they will be free.

After all, I remembered a horror movie. I have a hard time sitting down with myself and want to move quickly because of the discomfort. Stage is a talented writer who knows how to create the world and enjoys that she adds complexity to her character, but in the end the book gets stuck in the first few pages. I think you do. If you want to know the evils they face, you’ll read more, but the Villains of Canyon aren’t as scary as the Canyon itself or the actual event the front pages are based on.


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