The Mars Room: A Novel

I discovered Rachel Kushner by way of The Hard Crowd and fell in love with her prose, the way she conjured old San Francisco like a native, reminding me of Erick Lyle’s On the Lower Frequencies. In the New Yorker piece, Kushner mentioned The Mars Room as a place where she further explored the scenes and people from her childhood and teenage years in SF so I jumped on getting it from the library. The novel has pockets of exactly the kind of detail I was hoping for, but the pressure of a novel made her flesh out too many pages devoted to characters I couldn’t care less about, Doc and the lady who’s on death row, Betty LeFrance. Otherwise it was a great story, the narrator locked up for life in prison for killing a man who stalked her when he became infatuated by her at a strip club. Lots of reminiscing about sights, smells, events in SF.  The guy who teaches literature at the prison who brings her wire cutters she eventually uses to escape; you gotta love a guy who wonders “Why was Thoreau Thoreau, while Ted Kaczynski was Ted?… It was more familiar to be angry and bad. Maybe that was why.”