Thu. Jun 1st, 2023

Book cover

Boullosa’s latest novel is a retelling of the story of Eve—yes, that Eve. The novel begins with the Garden of Eden and ends with the Tower of Babel; in between, Eve explains what really happened and how that truth got all twisted and tangled. To start: She wasn’t made from Adam’s rib, and there wasn’t any serpent. Those are just lies that Adam spread: “Adam insisted upon his version of history, continuing to repeat his stupid lie,” Boullosa writes. “Adam stole the true story of our origins.” Boullosa’s goal here—a feminist reclamation of one of the world’s oldest stories—might be admirable, but the result frequently feels didactic and, at times, even trite. Boullosa clearly wanted to replace Eve’s shame with pleasure in sensual things, but her prose in these parts becomes flat and repetitive; she simply repeats the word pleasure. So, for example, Eve feels “unparalleled pleasure, pleasure greater than you’d think the senses could perceive.” As a whole, the book feels less like a novel than a thinly veiled manifesto. Then, too, because there is no plot, the book has a shapeless on-and-on quality that quickly becomes tedious. Eve simply goes on describing things. As a frame for the work, Boullosa has chosen to present Eve’s narration as if it were a lost manuscript. Sections are followed by miscellaneous “papers,” which hold additions to and alternative versions of Eve’s story—some “written” by Eve herself, some by other characters (like Adam and Cain, for example). This gimmick strains credulity to the breaking point.

By cb2gp