trust exercise review
Susan Choi’s fifth novel is such a book and while it remains unbattered, having made its way safely from my armchair to my shelves, I’m not convinced that it succeeds in its valiant efforts... It’s a bold and original way to create a work of fiction but it’s difficult not to feel cheated by the result. Choi builds her novel carefully, but it is packed with wild moments of grace and fear and abandon. As readers, we invest in characters and story, agreeing to suspend our disbelief as a narrative draws us into unexpected places. If that sounds annoying, it isn’t — Choi might be tricksy, but she’s also deadly serious in her pursuit of timely, MeToo-era themes including the misuse of power and the effects of abuse. 6 reviews. When a troupe of young British actors arrive for a month to put on a production of “Candide,” she will be sexually preyed upon by an older member of the group, a sickly sort of goat-footed satyr. [ Trust Exercise” won the 2019 National Book Award for fiction. Enclosing his students in a rarefied bubble where performance is everything, Mr Kingsley initiates them into a dangerous game that blurs the boundary between teacher and students. Choi is a talented writer, her paragraphs filled with dense sentences that capture every nuance of her characters’ lives and she is to be applauded for surprising the reader with her twists and turns even if, for this reader, her innovations do not entirely succeed. They knew what they were doing! (F. Murray Abraham would play him in a movie.) In the end, it’s about cruelty. by Adriel M Trott on May 6, 2019 I’m curious about the current run on novels of teenage coming-of-age and how these novels … © 2020 Bookseller Media Ltd rights reserved. One aspect of this kind of night tends to involve running along a roadside somewhere, searching for a pay phone. Sarah and David are so smitten that it’s as if “some chemical made her for him, him for her.” They’re famous, the school’s chosen couple. The second act, which takes places 20 years later, shifts the spotlight and calls into question all that has gone before. The themes that emerge share some links with Ariel Dorfman’s play “Death and the Maiden,” about a woman who comes to suspect that a dinner guest is the same man who tortured and raped her for weeks while she was blindfolded. They want them to grow the hell up. This psychologically acute novel enlists your heart as well as your mind. Sign up to get the best reviewed books of the week delivered every Monday morning - A spotlight seems to trail them around. ]. Review: Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise ** spoiler alert ** Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise asks readers to abandon preconceived ideas about what a novel should be and allow three characters to share their own specific experiences that (tangentially) center on a failed high school romance. Some readers will find its forays into metafiction tedious or navel-gazing; I did. “His mouth is nothing like hers because made for hers; her first time kissing him had been the first experience of her life that had exceeded expectation.”. “Trust Exercise” begins as a love story. The suspense builds gradually. Here is what I will say about the second section of “Trust Exercise,” which becomes a metafictional commentary on all that has gone before. It is a phosphorescent examination of sexual consent, especially when applied to student-teacher relationships. In Choi’s novel, all the characters want from adults is what they so rarely get: competency and decency. It wants to mess with your expectations, to whip the rug from under your feet. I do not want to give too much of this transformation away, because I found the temporary estrangement that resulted to be delicious and, in its way, rather delicate. A member of the cast sets a complicated kind of ambush, not only for him but for a female friend who betrayed her. When you purchase an independently reviewed book through our site, we earn an affiliate commission. Even as Sarah and David’s interactions play out as a soap opera for their year group, there’s more going on, including a fellow pupil, Karen, having an affair with another teacher, Martin. Once in a while, a novel’s plot takes such an unexpected turn, breaking the unspoken contract between reader and writer, that it’s hard to know whether to fling the book at the wall in anger or proclaim it a brave attempt to push the boundaries of the form. But you realize you’ve almost entirely misunderstood the primary characters and the mise-en-scène. But Choi captures wryly yet compassionately the emotional chaos of any adolescence. Susan Choi’s book about a group of students takes a dramatic turn in the second half Susan Choi . Although it resonates with the contemporary moment, its genesis clearly lies in Choi’s back catalogue. Remember what we were like?”, A woman replies, “We were children.” His scornful response: “We were never children.”. That spotlight turns into a searchlight. It’s always been easy to admire Susan Choi’s novels, especially “American Woman” (2003), loosely based on the Patty Hearst kidnapping and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in fiction. Perhaps this is because “Trust Exercise” is a densely imagined high school novel and, like most of her central characters, I graduated from high school in the early 1980s. I’m sure they slept with him. Sarah and David’s relationship unravels. Read more about the other winners. Susan Choi’s book about a group of students takes a dramatic turn in the second half Trust Exercise review: A bold novel that might leave you feeling cheated. Yet the book is hard to fall for. Choi’s new novel, her fifth, is titled “Trust Exercise,” and it burns more brightly than anything she’s yet written. It’s the lesson failed by the abuser of power, the lesson the novel at its richest takes it on itself to parse. The entire structure of the novel folds in on itself like a piece of origami, and what emerges is something sharp-edged and prickly: a narrative propelled by white-hot rage and the desire for revenge... To employ Trust Exercise as a #MeToo novel would be to do this challenging, mercurial work a disservice. “Trust Exercise” circles varieties of trust like a thief casing a jewelry store: the trust between teacher and student, performers and audience, a writer and her subject, a writer and her reader. Perhaps the title itself is meant in an ironic sense but reading a novel is a sort of trust exercise in itself, the trust that the reader has in the writer to convince us that something that never happened actually did, and when our faith in the story is betrayed, the novel itself becomes damaged. Trust Exercise by Susan Choi Of the many intriguing ways Choi plays with voice, perspective and nomenclature, Karen’s section is the most striking. Hormones practically drip off the page... Then, suddenly and without warning, Choi executes a bravura bait-and-switch, after which everything changes. We knew what we were doing. “The world is me and not me,” Karen says near the end, recalling the lesson of therapy, one she’s found “difficult to learn”. It is about at this point that Choi pulls the tablecloth out from under “Trust Exercise.” The cutlery and the glasses remain, warily quivering. It’s about sophomore theater students, their souls in flux. It’s become fashionable in some elite fiction to suggest, as a character does in Rachel Cusk’s novel “Transit,” that “bringing up a completely undamaged child was in bad taste.” I am guilty of romanticizing messed-up childhoods myself, having had a perfectly safe and dull one. 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