GEORGIA UNDER WATER
Too often collections of vaguely related stories are given chapter numbers and passed off as a novel—here what is essentially a novel is divided into short stories. The nine sections are chronological installments in the life of Georgia Jackson, from ages 12 through 15. Georgia lives in Daytona Beach and later Orlando, and comes from a deeply dysfunctional family. Her father, Buck, is an irresponsible alcoholic; her mother is depressed and irrational much of the time; her brother, Sid, is her mischievous ally at the beginning, but slowly drifts away. Though extremely bright, Georgia is, like most girls her age, confused about love and life in general. She is obsessed with her developing body and sexuality, but she often has to play the adult when dealing with her parents—such as when her father gets drunk and makes a scene at a block party or when she is forced to hide out in an apartment with her mother, who sleeps in the tub. There is more than a hint of a not quite incestuous relationship between father and daughter, and it reaches a crescendo during a bizarre, seedy road trip to Atlanta. Sellers's prose is strong and vibrant, full of striking imagery and inventive turns of phrase. She perfectly captures the harrowing experience of adolescence and infuses even the darkest situations with an appealing absurdity. Readers will find it hard not to be charmed by Georgia's buoyant precociousness, and will want to read the gloomy final story as the end of her trial by fire and the beginning of a better life. (May)
Forecast: Sarabande is a small but lively press without a big marketing budget, so a few prominent reviews and handselling will be crucial to the success of this title—it's perfect for fans of Lynda Barry.