By Shelley Jackson
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060882358, 448pp.)
Publication Date: August 2006
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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A brilliant, disquieting first novel about a pair of conjoined twins who are deeply unhappy in each other's company. Nora, the dominant twin, is strong, funny, and deeply independent, thirsting for love and adventure. Blanche, by contrast, has been sleeping for nearly twenty years. Finally sick of carrying her sister's dead weight, Nora decides she wants her other half gone for good, so she leaves San Francisco for London in search of the mysterious Unity Foundation, which promises to make two one. And that one, of course, will be Nora -- Blanche will be mourned, but not missed.
But once Nora arrives in London, her past begins to surface in surprising and disturbing ways, forcing her into a most reluctant voyage into memory. Something seems to be drawing Nora's thoughts back to the site of her rather unusual conception, birth, and childhood -- the reconstructed ghost town of Too Bad, Nevada, where lizards skitter across the playa and "Shootout at Noon" comes every day. Searching for meaning and understanding in both her own and Blanche's past, Nora pushes herself to the brink of insanity -- and begins to question her own, and Blanche's, grip on the truth. Grotesque, funny, intricately wrought, verbally and conceptually dazzling, Shelley Jackson's first novel is an imaginative and touching portrait of two lives in a cleft world yearning for wholeness -- a world not unlike our own.
"[E]ven in its most philosophical moments, HALF LIFE maintains an almost giddy flair for fabulism and macabre detail.
-Time Out New York
"[A] shimmering, dazzling, delight, filled with ... humor and poignancy that should endear her to thousands of new readers.
"A Molotov cocktail of highly combustible intelligence. . . truly glorious."
-New York Times Book Review
"Ingenious, sensual, gleeful. . . . It demands of its readers only imagination, and rewards them with hilarity, terror, and marvels."
"I loved this book. . . . Half Life is twisty and vampy and campy, grotesque, picaresque, droll, and dazzling."
-Kelly Link, author of Magic for Beginners
"Jackson's style is as offbeat as her storytelling... with hilariously dark humor . . . intriguingly odd."
"[A] big, ambitious, deeply strange and strangely riveting novel . . . Maestra!"
"Jackson's prose is nothing short of dazzling."