Duplex, by Kathryn Davis

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I’m not made of money, you know, her father said and the girl laughed, because who was? People weren’t made of paper or metal. That was what made them people.

Duplex is a complicated novel. It is somewhat a collection of short stories, though the characters remain the same and it seems to flow in a logical order (one can never tell what fits and what does not in this book). I want to start off by saying, I did not know that this book was going to be science fiction. I want to repeat myself, this book is science fiction. Personally, I still liked it, but it was pretty shocking when it first started and there were robots and people living together, and sorcerers and well, I’ll let you read the book 😉

The crickets were rubbing their hind legs together, unrolling that endless band of sound that when combined with the sound of the sycamore trees tossing their heads in the heat-thickening breeze could cause even a girl as unsentimental as Mary to feel like she’d just left something behind on the porch stoop she couldn’t bear to live without.

Overall the novel follows the lives of a community, particularly a very plain girl named Mary and her love for Eddie. Eddie goes off to become a ball player, and Mary marries someone else in a very complicated series of events. Their stories are broken up by tales from a woman named Janice, who has the most horrific, yet delightful, stories about girls who came before them. Girls who turned to beads, girls who were horses and mermaids. Janice was my favorite character of the book.

Apes or humans–we all made the same mistake, tempted by shifting leaves or the smell of sex, by music or a ripe banana.

Recommendation if you like science fiction, read this book. If you like magical realism, read this book. If you like beautiful language and like magic, read this book. The language that Davis uses is truly beautiful and striking. The novel is punctuated by magical events juxtaposed with the familiar, like a daughter pulling away from her daughter. I think this novel would be a better read going through it knowing that it is science fiction. The style of writing is complicated, but also flows nicely, so one could read right through it without reading anything at all, so keep in mind that it is complicated and requires attention.

I think it’s often possible for a person to lie to herself while at the same time knowing perfectly well what’s going on.

Other Thoughts personally, I kept reading through the book, passages over and over again, feeling like I was missing something. Was there a greater symbolism here? I wasn’t really sure, though I think the last story does a really good job of tying it together. Janice tells a story that all the women deem boring, and she says but this is everyones story. I did not do a good job of quoting her there, so I encourage you to read the book to see what it is really like.

The afternoons had a way of stretching endlessly in all directions as if time were taffy, something a person could get caught in.

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Eddie had been a good person to begin with; the material part of his body including his brain cells and his memory couldn’t forget that fact, even while the cold black wind of soullessness kept blowing through the empty space inside.

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