Sex, Lees, and Social Media

Posted on: August 29th, 2019 by

I assiduously avoid reading (fiction) reviews on Goodreads prior to cracking open a book so as not to be prejudiced/predisposed to like or loathe it. I’d rather peruse the back cover teaser and a handwritten note from a bookstore employee. Also I find reviews to be spoiler-y. Not in a “The butler did it!” kind of way, but regarding certain plot aspects or something tantalizing about the author. Hey, I love context, but I like to investigate all that after finishing a work of fiction. Reflect on, and question, what I was thinking while reading a book. Perhaps expand or alter what goes on in my mind. Anyway, it’s a good thing I stayed away from Goodreads when it came to Social Creature, a novel by Tara Isabella Burton.

The novel Social Creature is very polarizing when it comes to reviews.

Polarizing reviews, to say the least. I’ll share mine but first I found a delightful wine-related moment:

“New Years resolution,” Lavinia roars. “Be it resolved: we shall drink life to the lees.”

Lees are the leftover grape and other solids from the winemaking process, settling to the bottom of the tank or barrel. So if you are going to drink life to the lees, you are going to drink it dry. Metaphorically and, based on the actions of some of the characters in Social Creature, literally.

BTW, if you want to experience what lees contribute to a wine, check out Muscadet. The Loire Valley white wine is a classic example of a wine aged on its lees, which add texture and flavor.

Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

Onto the book. It’s about a woman in her late 20s (Louise) scraping by in Brooklyn, motivated by a fear of returning to her small New Hampshire hometown and admitting defeat. Through serendipitous NYC-type events, she meets the younger, far wealthier Lavinia. They become best friends almost immediately. Louise enters a world of exclusive parties, money, and drugs. Then, things take a turn for the worse and Louise has to figure out how to lead a life of (continuing) deception. I’m soft-pedaling it a lot here. This book goes very dark. Here’s my review on Goodreads:

A hard to put down thriller. The kind of book you miss your subway stop for because you were too deep into it. Great New York City detail, an interesting use of social media as a plot device (which could be dumb as hell), and a lead character who is more cunning than you think. Disturbing, sometimes deeply so, and engrossing.

People either loved or hated this book. Count me in the former category. Was quite a shift from reading a book about sand.


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