The Stud Book

Monica Drake. Crown/Hogarth, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-307-95552-4
Sarah works at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, Ore., monitoring animal behavior and mating activity while trying to carry a pregnancy to term after several miscarriages. Her academic friend Georgie is on maternity leave with a largely absent husband and a “French feminist tramp stamp.” Dulcet and Nyla, the other half of this friend foursome, are a bit older: Nyla has daughters in high school and college; photographer and sex-educator Dulcet has a medical marijuana prescription and a “living anatomy lesson” in the form of a bespoke latex suit covered with “an anatomically correct illustration of a woman’s internal organs... with the vulnerability of the inside lacing the outside.” All four are native Portlanders, and while Drake’s interest is clearly women’s lives and the push-pull forces of biology, what really stands out is her depiction of their city. This is not the twee wonderland of Portlandia—it’s a place where anything potentially usable goes on the curb with “paper signs screaming FREE!” despite the inevitable rain that turns would-be recyclables into a “multileveled mold collection.” Drake’s characters don’t just remember an older, more run-down city, they seem to inhabit it: Nyla opens a store in a dicey neighborhood, her daughter goes to a subpar school, day laborers wait for work. While the women’s specific plights don’t always carry enough weight, Drake (Clown Girl) combines their lives in a quirky, knowing way, showing the complexities of modern-day female life, species Pacific Northwest native. Agent: Seth Fishman, the Gernert Company. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/25/2013
Release date: 04/09/2013
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-307-95554-8
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-0-307-95553-1
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