The New York of Lynne Tillman’s hilarious, audacious fourth novel is a boiling point of urban decay.
The East Village streets are overrun with crooked cops, drug addicts, pimps and prostitutes. Garbage piles up along the sidewalks amid the blaring soundtrack of car stereos. Confrontations are supercharged by the summer heat wave. This merciless noise has left Elizabeth Hall an insomniac. Junkies roam her building and overturn trashcans, but the mean-spirited landlord refuses to help clean or repair the decrepit conditions. Live-in boyfriend Roy is good-natured but too avoidant to soothe the sores of city life.
Though Elizabeth fights on for normalcy and sanity in this apathetic metropolis, violent fantasies threaten to push her over the edge. In vivid detail, she begins to imagine murders: those of the “morons” she despises, and, most obsessively, her own.
Frightening, hilarious, and wholly addictive, No Lease on Life is an avant-garde sucker-punch, a plea for humanity propelled by dark wit and unflinching honesty. Tillman’s spare prose, frank, poignant and always illuminating, captures all the raving absurdity of a very bad day in America’s toughest, hottest melting pot.
Cover image adapted from a photo by madabandon.
"Confirms and enhances her reputation as one of America's most challenging and adventurous writers." (Guardian)
“[Elizabeth] neither recoils nor romanticizes … She’s a character who stays with you after you put the book down—a creature of occasional dark impulses, intermittent grumpiness and perennial willingness to pull up her socks and deal.” (David Gates, New York Times Book Review)
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Tillman has been praised as some genius avant-garde writer like Beckett so I gave it longer than I normally would've, but gave up almost half-way through. The writing is nothing special, the characters nothing special and nothing happens. If there's some deep subtext, it was lost on me. (It's sprinkled with increasingly vulgar corny jokes. Almost every one I'd heard before, which I think must've been the point — but what it's supposed to mean, I don't know.)
Love and Hate
- Felicia White