Sisters by Lily Tuck



I can’t recall where I heard about this book, but I had been in the queue to get it from the library for about a month when I finally got notified to pick it up. I actually was a little worried about picking up a book while in the midst of the MOOC I help with called ModPo (Shout out to meredith and Nadia!). However, this was a very quick read- I finished it in just a few days.

Let’s start with the good. I did like the set up, and I’d like to check out more of Tuck’s books based on this experience. The book is considered a novel, but is broken up into small vignettes — some pages only have one line, others a paragraph and the maximum length was about 2 sides of one page. So, it made it very easy to pick up and put down throughout the day. I enjoyed this aspect and feel this book is somewhat poetry and perhaps is misbranded as a novel. I’d love to know what people think about such things here.

The book is written from the perspective of a woman who is the 2nd wife of a man. She is sort of obsessed with the ex wife, a concert pianist. She refers to the second wife as she throughout the book so you can easily identify her, though her name is never used. In fact, no names are used throughout.

I can appreciate the sentiment of wondering about the first wife, and asking yourself hard questions– does he love me more than he loved her? And so on. However, enter the son, who evidently starts stealing her pain meds and things got a little strange. On her fortieth birthday, her husband tells her his flight is canceled and he won’t be back until the next day. The son offers to celebrate and they drink and smoke and so on. They opened an expensive bottle of bubbles and the narrator can’t replace it, so she tells her husband it was given to the maid, Margarita.

When the husband comes home he asks if Margarita liked the champagne. She says yes and when he asks if his son and wife were in bed together when she came to clean, she also says yes. What is hard to know here is if she is being genuine, since she did not have the champagne. Regardless, the narrator and husband divorce and the novel ends.

I felt like the ending was a little jarring and perhaps not completely conceived. I don’t know what kind of ending I was looking for, but this felt a little out of left field. It felt too easy to me to just end things like that.

I did enjoy the writing, though.

Overall rating: 3/5

7 comments on “Sisters by Lily Tuck”

  1. What an intriguing book! And such a thoughtful review. I am also on the look-out for short books now that ModPo has burst forth its annual inundation of poetry. And here’s a shout-out back to you and meredith and a reminder that anyone can join–no experience needed!

    Thank you again for continuing the work of our reading blog, even in our “off season.” I’ll write about my short-book experience soon myself. Back to Walt and Emily!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi there! Alison, what a strange story-line in your book… I feel a little disconcerted just reading the review, and wondering what was the deal with the mom and her son?!

    I have been ModPo-ing a little (hi Nadia!)– but have been quite slow, because I have been trying to pay some attention to poems that I have not really explored in the last few years, just to grow and expand my knowledge.. but I have not been as active as I think I could be right now…

    Anyway, I am going to try to post a note about a wonderful experience I had a couple weeks ago, attending the (first annual) Millay Poetry Festival in Rockland, Maine. I got front row for Richard Blanco, and was completely blown away. My aunt publishes a newspaper in Rockland, so I actually took his picture for the article– it was very exciting! Also got to hear/see Tracy K Smith (new poet laureate)… It was a great weekend!

    Well, see you here and there 🙂 btw- anyone going to Kelly Writer’s House this season?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. ha- oh, I am relieved it was her step-son (not that it’s ok anyway, but – well- you know what I mean!)… thanks for clarifying. makes a lot more sense now!

        Liked by 1 person

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