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Build a Man by Talli Roland
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
When last we met, I was commenting on the fact that in Talli Roland’s Build A Man (BAM) I’d found that Jung, like Kilroy was here. You were reading about it. Today’s commentary will deliver the promised continuation – even if YOU have by now launched yourself on that long-awaited cruise. No worries. Someone will take notes.
Ms. Roland is indeed a good storyteller. No question. (And how, you may be muttering, would YOU know? Well, if you read that sentence, Plaintiff rests.) A native Canadian, Talli studied journalism and, once settled in London, decided it was more fun to write her own stories than about those of others. Enter three novels published in one year with a fourth at the ready. Safe to say, then, that she’s been successful, not merely successive.
Our protagonist, Serenity – so named, perhaps, to belie her true persona – bears a remarkable resemblance to her creator save she hails from Maine, USA. Having been gifted by Roland with a first person narrative format, she must have as strong voice. She does NOT, the ONE FLAW this American found in an otherwise intelligent story written with sardonic wit as well as scientific accuracy. She, too, majored in journalism with an eye toward writing for tabloids, a destiny for which she trawls across the ‘pond’ in London.
Re: her speech deficit, – which could have so easily been averted by birthing her in Canada or some other of the UK’s offerings – the reader soon overcomes the pain of laboring to believe that any kid from Maine would use words/phrases like “uber”, “car park” and “smodge”. This because we are swept into the tale’s situational elements which – as any plastic surgery clinic would – allow for idiosyncratic emotions from humor to uglification to horror to humiliation. (Sounds like Lewis Carroll was here, too.
Introvert Serenity is also directed by the gods Trickster (spontaneity) and Pan (disorder). This Jungian personality ‘combination’ makes her at once self-deprecating, a panic-monger, pandemonium-creator and nurse substitute. Jeremy, also an introvert (as per Jung’s definition) is haplessly guided by the Mother and Anima (female) Archetypes. As such, he loves beauty and constantly seeks ‘wood’ to keep his ego fires burning. Simultaneously, this already flawed man is visited by additional physical damage. Fortunately, he survives by the nourishment provided by his Mother Archetype. Typically associated with ‘Mother’s typology, he is comforted/drawn to food – its preparation, consumption and sharing. Indeed, dining at ease in the company of a woman is one of his litmus tests for the perfect mate.
Peter, a strong extrovert, lives to control, impact, design HIS world. He’s waiting ‘on Daisy’s dock’, as it were, when Serenity is beached south of the Dover cliffs. She must have a job. Peter, a plastic surgeon, needs a receptionist. Serenity traipses on her four inch heels into his office and parks her bottom on her assigned, backless stool. At day’s end, she ‘brings her work home’, moving in with her boss (she needs a place to live, as well) playing the obedient love-mate in Peter’s structured quarters.
Peter believes in Peter and his is a blind faith that serves him well when things don’t end that way. He oils his way around discomfiture, using his extraversion to make things ‘Peter’s way’ by control/domination. It’s not so much what Peter does, but does NOT do, that makes him distasteful. Serenity compensates her way through his maze as his receptionist. In this role, she gets to rail (secretly) against the ‘Botox bitches’ and dream of mouthing their stories to willing, hungry ‘tabloid tyrants.’
When, ultimately, our two introverts crash right into calamity (created by Peter), Serenity becomes Jeremy’s companion-nurse-manager – the ‘ultimate’ hyphenate. And, it is within this interplay that the reader enjoys their performance. The dream-seekers find themselves, individually and collectively, and their true dream. That this wrap-up seems a tad precipitous is remedied by the fact that Talli’s fourth outing – Build A Couple – is waiting in the wings. So don yours and fetch yourself a segue.
Reviewer: Lorane Leavy
Born in 1945 Brooklyn, NY, I attended parochial elementary and high schools then vowed to see ‘beyond New York’. This trek landed me in Washington, DC and Georgetown University where I graduated with a BS in Nursing and an ‘MRS’ proposal which, after acceptance, led to some 44 years and counting of wedded adventure to Philip G. Leavy, Jr, MD. We have three children and six grands. Matriculating while gestating, I followed my original writing dream post partum and parenting – with a seven-year hitch as a litigation attorney. Family and ‘authoring’ remain my blessed Karma. Visit Lorane at her blog.