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Guns, Race, Abortion: Jennifer Haigh’s New Novel Humanizes Hot Topics

Using a title taken from a poem by Anne Sexton, she started “Mercy Street” with Claudia, 43, who lives in Boston and has a stressful job. Claudia is not really a city person. She was born in Maine to a 17-year-old who probably didn’t want her. The filth caught in the shaggy carpet of the trailer still lingered in her brain. “She can still remember the first time she heard the term white trash can. She was only 9, 10 years old, watching comics on TV, she understood right away that he was talking about people like her.”

Credit…Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

“Mercy Street” opens on Ash Wednesday, 2015. Claudia is at work, taking phone calls from pregnant women at a health clinic off the Boston Common, knowing each call is an open door. into someone’s life. Outside, the peak protest season has just begun and will last through the end of Lent. Most of the protesters are male. One thing will come up in Haigh’s story, but not in any way you might expect.

Claudia had lived many lives before this. Her past permeates the book in part through her reactions to callers and guests. She’s repulsed by the privileged types who can afford to erase unwanted pregnancies from their bodies, their career prospects, and their memories. Likewise, addicts who are too wasteful to care about near-living fetuses disgust her as well. Fear-driven women – a mother of four who thinks her ex could kill her – ignite her compassion. And she hates hearing the constant pleas, “It’s my fault.”

After hours, Haigh drove Claudia to a weed dealer named Timmy. In a book that is completely informal and full of quirks, Timmy is always stoned and his grand plans and bigger TV screens serve as comedic relief. Timmy doesn’t understand golf but watches it for its soft tone: “the rolling green lawns, announcers speak in closed voices like a sleeping child.” Claudia loves talking to Timmy and just talking. She glued layers of elegance to her trailer during the upbringing of a mother who pushed her aside for her countless adoptions. Timmy’s getaway, where he meets a horde of buyers and broods about impending marijuana legalization, feels like home.

Claudia, Timmy, and all of the other players of the book — including, sure, a few characters from Bakerton — have one thing in common: They don’t want to. They have grudged since birth. There are two “sisters” and two “brothers” who are not blood related but were raised in the same family in a grim way – and both pairs focus on women and what they stand for, whether that’s it or not. sex or reproduction. These people came from wildly different points of the political spectrum, but they were soon harmed in similar ways. Claudia is smarter than most, but when targeted by her mother’s 13-year-old boyfriend, she has no idea what he wants. Marry her, or adopt her?

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/30/books/review-mercy-street-jennifer-haigh.html Guns, Race, Abortion: Jennifer Haigh’s New Novel Humanizes Hot Topics

Fry Electronics Team

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