But for Orville and Solace of Leaving Early the other works of hers I have read have not drawn me in enough for me to even finish them. I hope Kimmel gets the recognition she deserves for this novel. I also hope that despite my ignorance about archetypes and ancient Greek and methamphetamines that others with clout will appreciate this novel.
Trace Pennington is a senior at the top of her class at the University of the Midwest, a double major in English and classics with an intimidating quadruple minor in psychology, humanities, philosophy, and (after one more class) womens studies. And archetypes are where this novel dwells, within the Jungian corridors of the collective unconscious, where Traces hallucinations (the coyote walking upright who, when she was six, put a pebble in the back of her neck and led her over the hillside to where her best friend was waiting) are every bit as real as her abusive mother and her too-beloved father.
I knew I didn't like this book after about 70 pages, but I continued on for another 70 or so pages after that, hoping this author wouldn't disappoint me and things would come together.
Iodine by Haven Kimmel was a very disturbing book for me. I could not say I liked it, but I feel compelled to give it high praise for what Kimmel has created in this portrayal of her character, Trace Pennington. The majority of Iodine comes to us in the form of journals. Trace has a form of epilepsy that is not discovered, or even considered, until late in her life. Readers enter Traces life during her time at university. Traces mind seems to never stop and readers are thrown page by page into Greek mythology to Jung to Freud and back to Jung. But no matter what, for me, Haven Kimmels Iodine is one of the most memorable books I have ever read and it will continue to haunt me!
This is one of those books where nothing I say will help anyone who reads this. This book just simply has to be read to be understood.
Not so with the novels of Haven Kimmel, which deal with such huge swaths of academic study, and in such depth, they could be called "ambitious." But not merely ambitious. Haven Kimmel has created a living, breathing, complex character in Trace Pennington and has laid bare that character's psyche for all to see. This is one of the most literate, challenging, downright terrifying books I've read in years.
I read this book last year and it has stayed with me like no other.
It, I can only suppose, captures the mind of a deeply disturbed, highly intelligent girl and I was just plugging through until before I know it, it's the end of the book, there's this crazy twist and it was over.
In that time theres been a three-piece of place (the novels The Solace of Leaving Early, Something Rising Light and Swift: and The Used World), a second look back (She Got up off the Couch), a book for swift kids (Orville: A Dog Story) and a retelling of Revelation for the hard-cover companion to the über-hip online belief-sheet Killing the Buddha. And as if those werent already more than many writers write in a lifetime, shes now unleashed Iodine (Free Press $24), a novel that reads like the result of all of the above through the eyes of a stalker. Before we core its necessary to know whos holding the knife, which in this case seems to be two keen women, each inhabiting the same body. So she turns outward, to her friend, to her family and to a nutty professor who has read every book in the world and still isnt half as keen as he thinks he is. Imagine having all of historys thoughts and theories right at the tip of your tongue and rarely saying a word. Kinda sorta really just like Zippy, only different. I slipped Ms. Kimmel 13 of my trademark either/ors; heres what she slipped back: Archetype or alien? Archetypes, certainly. I never stop listening to Robert Smith, but Peter Murphy is like a ghost you love and cant give up. Elizabeth Bishop or Emily Dickinson? I love South Florida, but Im really coming just to see Mitchell Kaplan, that handsome devil.