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The Mars Room (2018)

por Rachel Kushner

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
1,1196313,789 (3.67)100
"From twice National Book Award-nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called "the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year" (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America. It's 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility, deep in California's Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision. Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner's work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined."--… (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porbiblioteca privada, Khaworth, Beaubsi, denniharbaugh, respinola, katiekrug, ksoni1, Ellemir, lindsaym404
  1. 10
    Gold Fame Citrus por Claire Vaye Watkins (rjuris)
  2. 00
    Valencia por Michelle Tea (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: I feel like the protagonists could have crossed paths, and maybe that's both authors' point, that our lives, no matter our plans, have no narrative cohesion. Some rise, some fall, but it has nothing to do with virtue or talent or who deserves what. Those are all just stories we tell ourselves to feel okay about leaving people behind.… (mais)
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The Unjustness of American Justice

Are you of the mind that each person must accept personal responsibility for how he or she leads their life, and that all that befalls them is of their own doing? Or, are you more inclined to think people, yes, must bear a certain degree of personal responsibility, but that they often have little control of many aspects of their lives, from formative years on into adulthood. In The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner speaks to you in the latter group, but she also appeals to you among the formers. People, she seems to say, do not develop in a vacuum, do not live in one either. Society must accept some responsibility for how members turn out, because it’s society that bestows upon people crippling disadvantages and encouraging advantages. In The Mars Room, society as represented by our justice system, doesn’t come off very well when dealing with flawed people it has helped create.

The novel follows protagonist Romy Hall from the time she enters the California prison system. She had worked as a stripper and lap dancer at a club in San Francisco called The Mars Room to support herself and her child, Jackson. There, she attracted a clientele of men who requested her for lap dances, among them Kurt Kennedy, an ugly brute of a fellow with a leg damaged in a motorcycle accident. Kurt develops an imaginary relationship with Romy and begins stalking her, even after she leaves the Mars Room to avoid him. He finds her, though, and in a confrontation kills him by bashing in his brains. As a result of what she sees as incompetent legal representation by an assigned public defender, she receives two life sentences with added time, ensuring she will never leave prison. Not to put to fine a point on it, is this really justice?

From the prison bus to incarceration, Romy interacts with a variety of female prisoners all imprisoned for a variety of violent crimes, from robbery/murder to child murder. Kushner portrays everything about their treatment as dehumanizing and their accommodations as second rate, particularly in comparison to what they imagine men receive. Kushner doesn’t have to work too hard to accomplish this, just reproduce the signage and literature from prisons.

One day, Gordon Hauser appears on the scene. He, in addition to Kurt Kennedy, is a character with his own voice. Hauser, who has encountered difficulty in pursuit of his advanced degree, takes a job at the prison helping women interested earn their GEDs. Prison personnel, of course, deride him. As with all prison employees, at first he undervalues his charges and, like other employees, finds himself being manipulated by the women for their own purposes. Romy, he discovers, is different, an intelligent women who seems to want to learn. He orders her books via Amazon delivered directly to her, as prison rules forbid direct gifts. While Romy does enjoy the books, she hopes to learn about her son through him. At first resistant, he does deliver news to her that proves devastating and propels her into a desperate last act.

Kushner’s writing here conveys the rawness and brutality of the women’s lives but it is not without humor. If there is a message it’s that society has had a hand in creating these women and has chosen to banish them from its collective mind to a remote dismal prison into an equally dismal geography removed from sight and reach. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
The Unjustness of American Justice

Are you of the mind that each person must accept personal responsibility for how he or she leads their life, and that all that befalls them is of their own doing? Or, are you more inclined to think people, yes, must bear a certain degree of personal responsibility, but that they often have little control of many aspects of their lives, from formative years on into adulthood. In The Mars Room, Rachel Kushner speaks to you in the latter group, but she also appeals to you among the formers. People, she seems to say, do not develop in a vacuum, do not live in one either. Society must accept some responsibility for how members turn out, because it’s society that bestows upon people crippling disadvantages and encouraging advantages. In The Mars Room, society as represented by our justice system, doesn’t come off very well when dealing with flawed people it has helped create.

The novel follows protagonist Romy Hall from the time she enters the California prison system. She had worked as a stripper and lap dancer at a club in San Francisco called The Mars Room to support herself and her child, Jackson. There, she attracted a clientele of men who requested her for lap dances, among them Kurt Kennedy, an ugly brute of a fellow with a leg damaged in a motorcycle accident. Kurt develops an imaginary relationship with Romy and begins stalking her, even after she leaves the Mars Room to avoid him. He finds her, though, and in a confrontation kills him by bashing in his brains. As a result of what she sees as incompetent legal representation by an assigned public defender, she receives two life sentences with added time, ensuring she will never leave prison. Not to put to fine a point on it, is this really justice?

From the prison bus to incarceration, Romy interacts with a variety of female prisoners all imprisoned for a variety of violent crimes, from robbery/murder to child murder. Kushner portrays everything about their treatment as dehumanizing and their accommodations as second rate, particularly in comparison to what they imagine men receive. Kushner doesn’t have to work too hard to accomplish this, just reproduce the signage and literature from prisons.

One day, Gordon Hauser appears on the scene. He, in addition to Kurt Kennedy, is a character with his own voice. Hauser, who has encountered difficulty in pursuit of his advanced degree, takes a job at the prison helping women interested earn their GEDs. Prison personnel, of course, deride him. As with all prison employees, at first he undervalues his charges and, like other employees, finds himself being manipulated by the women for their own purposes. Romy, he discovers, is different, an intelligent women who seems to want to learn. He orders her books via Amazon delivered directly to her, as prison rules forbid direct gifts. While Romy does enjoy the books, she hopes to learn about her son through him. At first resistant, he does deliver news to her that proves devastating and propels her into a desperate last act.

Kushner’s writing here conveys the rawness and brutality of the women’s lives but it is not without humor. If there is a message it’s that society has had a hand in creating these women and has chosen to banish them from its collective mind to a remote dismal prison into an equally dismal geography removed from sight and reach. ( )
  write-review | Nov 4, 2021 |
It was ok, but too many POVs. I wasn't interested in hearing about the other characters in such great detail.

It had it's good moments. But I don't care enough about it to write any kind of a review so you will have to see what others have to say about it or, just read it yourself. Ha ha. ( )
  Jinjer | Jul 19, 2021 |
In her novel of prison life, Kushner wants the reader to straddle the line here between knowing her characters have done awful things, and yet have sympathy for the brutal treatment they receive. Romy is no innocent--she committed the crime of which she's accused, and her behavior towards her son is not wonderful. But neither does she deserve what she gets in return.

There's a tricky balance of humor, rage, and pathos here. For the most part, it works, but the rage and open politics of the book (which objectively, I largely agree with) occasionally feel a little too obvious.

The book shines during its blackly comedic portrayals of prison life--prison cheesecakes, Pruno, and yelling death row inmates. The inmates in Romy's block are serious offenders, many in for long time and abandoned by family, and the bleakness of their situation is evident in the descriptions of that breakdown.

While the inmates get fleshed out backstories, the prison largely remains a faceless, oppressive entity. The only exception is a continuing education teacher, who struggles to maintain boundaries with the inmates in between reading Ted Kaczynski in his cabin. ( )
  arosoff | Jul 11, 2021 |
Harrowing. Immerses the reader in the story. I felt and saw the prison, Hauser's cabin, the other inmates, Jackson, Kurt. Tough, tough read that pulls you through the novel. Great writer. Wow! Had to finish to escape the depressing atmosphere created. Characters (most) are not likable but Kushner gets you to understand them and the hopelessness of their situation. ( )
  SusanWallace | Jul 10, 2021 |
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"From twice National Book Award-nominated Rachel Kushner, whose Flamethrowers was called "the best, most brazen, most interesting book of the year" (Kathryn Schulz, New York magazine), comes a spectacularly compelling, heart-stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary America. It's 2003 and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women's Correctional Facility, deep in California's Central Valley. Outside is the world from which she has been severed: the San Francisco of her youth and her young son, Jackson. Inside is a new reality: thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living, which Kushner evokes with great humor and precision. Stunning and unsentimental, The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner's work. It is audacious and tragic, propulsive and yet beautifully refined."--

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813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century

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