Halliday writes beautifully, and yet I found Asymmetry gimmicky. It consists of two novellas, the first about Alice, a twenty-something wannabe writer who has an affair with Ezra Blazer, a famous American writer in his seventies. Coincidentally, Halliday in her twenties had an affair with seventyish Philip Roth. Every reviewer gossips about this, so I assume the tittle-tattle was part of the publicity package.
As a Second Wave feminist, I eventually tired of Alice and Ezra. It’s not that women who f— their way to fame don’t have talent, but it’s the f– part that cements the deal. Fortunately, in the second novella, “Madness,” Halliday casts aside Alice and Ezra to delineate a truly interesting character, Amar, an upper-middle-class Iraqi-American researcher who is detained at Heathrow Airport in London on the way to Iraq. This is the truly brilliant part of this novel.
Alas, in the final section Ezra is back! He gives an interview on a BBC radio show, “Desert Island Discs.” And, not surprisingly, Ezra mentions an interesting young writer he is helping. Just as we thought, Alice has benefited from Ezra’s patronage.
Somebody will love this novel, but I want it out of my house! When will women get out from under men?
How I miss Second Wave feminism!
The book is beautifully written and critically acclaimed. Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want the book.