Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Blondes by Emily Schultz

A worldwide rabies-like plague breaks out in Emily Schultz's witty new novel, The Blondes. Hazel Hayes is a graduate student in New York City when the epidemic starts. News media are calling it Blonde Fury, Gold Fever, Suicide Blondes, or California Rabies because only blonde women appear to be susceptible. While coverage of a bloody attack plays on a television screen nearby, Hazel meets with her thesis advisor for the first time and answers questions about herself:

"'I did my BA in Communications in Windsor, Ontario,' I told her.
'I know that Windsor is in Ontario. I lived in your country for seven years, hmm.' She tacked on hmm's for emphasis. Everything about her had emphasis, from her eyeliner to her phrases. 'There it sits, across the border from Detroit. Such an absolutely ruined city.'"

Cities all over the place pretty much get ruined shortly after this conversation. Hazel eventually takes refuge in a cottage in Wasaga Beach, north of Toronto. She shares the place with its owner, Grace, who is the wife of Karl, who is Hazel's former professor at the University of Toronto... and who is also responsible for Hazel's pregnancy. Hazel addresses her story to her unborn child, calling the fetus her "little womb-raider."

As in her earlier novel, Heaven is Small, Schultz skewers modern culture and society, yet maintains loving patience for her protagonists and their human frailties. It's a fun ride!

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