Tangerine by Christine Mangan review

2:38:00 AM

Tangerine by Christine Mangan plot review

Elevator Pitch:

this was an easy one: Single White Female in Paul Bowles's Tangier.


What threw me off: 

I remember reading the Sheltering Sky.  It's the most evocative novel I'd read, I was in Holland, and it made me forget the Dutch summer ( I read Paul Bowles and watched Visconti's Il Gattopardo, if you ever find yourself somewhere where the weather is awful, go for that combo). I don't mention this because to compare Tangerine to the Sheltering Sky, it would be a difficult comparison for any book. It is just by choosing Tangier as a setting, you'd expect the writer to try to bring the city to life. This is an immensely readable book, but the descriptions are utilitarian. No surprises, just dry descriptions of the Moroccan city. No flourishes at all.
The inner lives of the characters are spelled out; the style is less show and more tell.
Reading many thrillers makes me want to catch up with the plot, but this is the first book this year where I overtook the story: I kept thinking a whopper of a twist would come up. It never happened. In my opinion, it'd make Tangerine more captivating if the two female characters would, in the end, be revealed to be the same person, Fight Club style (or Ferris Bueller if you subscribe to that notion). It was a possibility; the central character spends time in a sanitarium, her mental health is questioned throughout, and the women were similar. Instead, and this was the biggest disappointment, it's the story of a semi-lesbian relationship, where the gay character is the sociopath, like Tom Ripley.

What is it about: 


Alice arrives in Tangier with her husband, John. He loves the chaotic city (The bias towards the city didn't sit well. Paul Bowles was an expert at showing the disintegration of a personage confronted with a different culture, sorry for the philosophical aside: a Nietzschean confrontation between the Apollonian and Dionysiac, the rational and irrational) but Tangerine doesn't reach that far.
After a while, Alice, unable to cope with the city, lives like a hermit, when her old college friend from Bennington, Vermont, Lucy shows up. Lucy is adventurous, love the city like John, but is wary of John's treatment of Alice. Soon tensions between the trio escalate, and someone ends up dead.
One more point of contention. Alice lets Lucy in her house, when in fact she's convinced Lucy is responsible for a fatal accident that happened in college. This is what made me believe Alice and Lucy were the same person, why in the hell would she otherwise let her into her life ever again?

Comes down to: 


An easy but unsatisfactory read.

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