Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review # 273: Radio Iris by Anne-Marie Kinney

Description: (from Amazon)
     Radio Iris follows Iris Finch, a twentysomething socially awkward daydreamer and receptionist at Larmax, Inc., a company whose true function she doesn’t understand (though she’s heard her boss refer to himself as “a businessman”).

     Gradually, her boss’ erratic behavior becomes even more erratic, her coworkers begin disappearing, the phone stops ringing, making her role at Larmax moot, and a mysterious man appears to be living in the office suite next door... an appropriate allegory for our modern recession.

      I actually don't know how I feel about Radio Iris. I loved Anne-Marie Kinney's word-craft, her descriptions were eloquent and full of life; I only wish that Iris's character had held the same skin-prickling spark. I enjoy words - how they look, how they sound, how they come together to create, or recreate, a scene or feeling, etcetera - and Kinney's writing style is the quintessence of sensory. For example: "...The sun, a runny yolk in the sky, dripping onto red dirt, little by little until there is nothing left of it, the sky extinguished as the last drop hits..." and "...She feels his eyes searching, imagines them like small rays of light trawling across her skin...". I could see and feel every vivid detail while I read, unfortunately these beautiful phrases seemed to circle around a plot-less gray drain. Iris and her brother Neil are very different from the characters I usually read about. Each conversation seemed to lead them nowhere, a sense of utter alienation and unconcern surrounding every action. Iris was a very sundry character, she didn't seem to fit in anywhere, (which I guess was the point), her interactions were boring, even for her. Socially awkward didn't even begin to cover her personality.  I went though at least half the 209 page book thinking that maybe Iris had autism or another social disorder. I was not invested in any of the characters because they just "existed" - there was no real story to follow. This was probably intentional as well, but the lack of plot-line and pace didn't work for me, nor did the omniscient narrator. I believe that the author's style was quite unique - poetic, surreal and sometimes unsettling, however, I couldn't help but want something more from such an obviously talented writer. The ending was interesting, but I still don't completely understand it, although there is a hint of allegory there. Recommended to readers in the mood for something a little different.

Rating: DNR (2.5/5)

*** I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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