Rabbits for Food

Binnie Kirshenbaum. Soho, $26 (384p) ISBN 978-1-64129-053-1
Kirshenbaum’s first novel in 10 years (The Scenic Route)—a tour de force about 43-year-old novelist Bunny’s descent into an abysmal clinical depression—is a remarkable achievement that expertly blends pathos and humor. Readers meet the self-effacing Bunny in a psych ward, waiting for a therapy dog that never arrives. From there, the narrative backtracks to follow Bunny’s trajectory from accomplished writer to being another one of the “lunatics.” The death of her best friend tipped Bunny into her downward spiral, which bottoms out at a suffocating New Year’s Eve dinner that goes very bad. Soon, she’s checked in to a psych ward and under the care of doctors whose ideas about treatment diverge sharply from her own. There are hints of pending doom in flashbacks of Bunny’s childhood: she felt out of place as the middle child in a middle-class home, and her outspoken (and generally caustic) observations were resented by her family. Amid the backstory and Bunny’s razor-sharp scrutiny of living in a mental hospital, Kirshenbaum sprinkles in Bunny’s brilliantly written and revelatory responses to the writing prompts given in the psych ward’s creative writing class. Elsewhere, Bunny’s cutting riffs on life in New York City, the psychiatrists she has seen throughout her life, and the effects of numerous medications, are eye-opening. Comparisons to One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest are obvious and warranted, but Kirshenbaum’s dazzling novel stands on its own as a crushing work of immense heart. (May)
Reviewed on : 03/01/2019
Release date: 05/07/2019
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-68441-853-4
Paperback - 978-1-64129-193-4
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-987175-50-9
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