‘O Fallen Angel’ Will Hit You in the Gut (in the Best Way)

Chicago Review of Books

9780062572684_9bc61Kate Zambreno’s O Fallen Angel is not subtle, and that’s a good thing. It is a triptych of a novel—if you can really call it a novel. Zambreno’s defiance of the genre comes across loud and clear in each part of this bold work. The narration is strictly stream of consciousness, the timeline is mutable, the setting is Anytown, U.S.A., and the characters are caricatures, but Zambreno’s punching prose keeps everything fresh.

The protagonist is only “Mommy,” simultaneously title, name, and identity. A saintly and stagnant suburban housewife, Mommy is kept in comfort by “Daddy,” and keeps him in home-cooked meals, or at least home-microwaved meals. Xenophobic, homophobic, with frozen smiles, the family exists in blessed suburbia safe from the evils of the city. Mommy’s greatest regret is her daughter, Maggie, a good girl gone bad who moved to the city and fell into the baddest of bad crowds. Bipolar, suicidal…

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