Wednesday, June 21, 2023

What is Rachel Cochran reading?

Featured at Writers Read: Rachel Cochran, author of The Gulf.

Her entry begins:
I adore books about obsessive friendships, particularly friendships formed in adolescence. In my life–and in my novel, The Gulf–adolescence is a strange, stormy time, one in which attractions and repulsions are overpowering and occasionally deeply intermixed. Novels that can paint this complicated dynamic in convincing ways utterly absorb me.

One such novel I recently read and adored is Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye, recommended to me by a close friend. I’ll admit, at first I was skeptical: the synopsis, which tells you that the novel is about an artist who returns to her hometown in adulthood and thinks about her childhood, seems to admit that not much happens in the story, plot-wise, and usually that’s a sticking point for me. But in Cat’s Eye, the happening is deeply embedded in the language itself–and ultimately the mind of the narrator–as she turns these gut-wrenching, white-hot memories over and over, handling them and gazing into them much like she used to do with the cat’s eye marble named in the title.

Two much more recent examples are Rebecca Makkai’s I Have Some Questions for You and...[read on]
About The Gulf, from the publisher:
In this electrifying debut literary thriller, set on the gulf coast of Texas in the 1970s at the height of the women’s liberation movement, a closeted young woman attempts to solve her surrogate mother’s murder in a tight-knit, religious small town.

In Parson, Texas, a small town ravaged by a devastating hurricane and the Vietnam War, twenty-nine-year-old Lou is diligently renovating a decaying old mansion for Miss Kate, the elderly neighbor who has always been like a mother to her. Mourning her brother’s death in Vietnam, Lou dreams of enjoying a more peaceful future in Parson. But those hopes are crushed when Miss Kate is murdered, and no one but Lou seems to care about finding the killer.

The situation becomes complicated when Joanna, Miss Kate’s long-estranged daughter and Lou’s first love, arrives in Parson—not to learn more about her mother’s death but for the house. Her arrival unearths sinister secrets involving the history of the town and its residents . . . revelations that may be the key to helping Lou discover the truth about Miss Kate’s death and her killer.

A gorgeously written, gripping story of forbidden love and devastating secrets that is a surprising twist on the traditional small-town story, The Gulf is a riveting and unsettling mystery that holds up a mirror to the values—and failures—of America.
Visit Rachel Cochran's website.

Writers Read: Rachel Cochran.

--Marshal Zeringue