Yevgeniya Traps

  • culture October 07, 2013

    The Virgins by Pamela Erens

    Pamela Erens's new novel, set at a New England boarding school in the late 1970s, submits its story of two teen lovers to a series of threatening narrative jolts: WASP-y repression, acts of violence, and an extremely unreliable narrator. For these young characters, rebellion is a means of liberation—but also a final trap.

    The Virgins, Pamela Erens’s subtle, accomplished second novel, is set at Auburn Academy, a New Hampshire boarding school. The book begins in the fall of 1979 and covers a single academic year in the lives of Aviva Rossner and Seung (“pronounced like the past tense of sing”) Jung, doomed lovers, reckless exhibitionists, exotic standouts in their starchy WASP surroundings. Aviva, with her gold jewelry, cowboy boots, and pretty face full of provocative makeup, and Seung, a champion swimmer and inveterate pot smoker, quickly become objects of school fascination: “even the teachers talked about

  • culture July 17, 2013

    Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life by Ulli Lust

    Call it the travelogue paradox: In books that purport to be about the perils and pleasures of life on the road, travel itself is typically no more than pretext. The real story being told has to with the self and its tentative steps into some great unknown. A travelogue is ultimately a coming-of-age story with its thumb stuck out.

    Ulli Lust’s graphic memoir of the time she spent hitchhiking and otherwise relying on the kindness of strangers in Austria and Italy makes little pretense of caring about the locales. When Ulli, a punked-out and disaffected seventeen-year-old from a middle-class