Oligarchy by Scarlett Thomas
"All of this is the sign of a good story to come; everyone knows that. But good stories have to be coaxed out carefully, like breech kittens; dug up slowly like hexed treasure, eased into the world gently, like an outsize poo."
Lately I can only read for about forty minutes before feeling the pull of sleep. Lately with not much to get up for I do go back into slumber and then have weird corona dreams, like everyone is having. But I managed to finish Scarlett Thomas's Oligarchy in a week. It's a slim book, just over 200 pages and the text is awkwardly set too close to the inner margin which makes holding it up for any length of time trying. It's about Tash, the daughter of a Russian Oligarch (had to look that up and then had hazy rememberings from 1980's history classes) ... Tash is rediscovered by her father and sent to an English boarding school where there is a myth about a dead woman and a black diamond and all the girls are obsessed with diets and Tash finds herself in her own version of an Oligarchy (one of the lessons is surely about how power can shift.) Thomas writes weird, smart, dark books - I have read most of her fiction - hers was one of the first author blogs I ever encountered. I found Oligarchy claustrophobic and compelling. The tone is often funny, occasionally dehumanising, callous like a beautiful teen girl's heart. Anyway, I love a boarding school book - I was reminded of The Moth Diaries and even my old wrongtown fave The Passionflower Hotel. Boarding School seems to me the perfect place to explore habitus, hierarchies and thigh-gap ... I'm looking forward to the TV series, and I'm glad that Scarlett Thomas gets to write whatever she wants.