Monday, September 17, 2012

locker rooms & burning leaves

Photo credit:  Petra Collins,  Rookie

I recently finished Megan Abbott's "sexy and sinister" (apt adjectives courtesy of the New York Times) Dare Me, and the teen girl smells of the locker room are still swirling:
In the locker room, 40 minutes to game time, we are Vegas showgirl-spangled. The air thick with biofreeze and tiger balm and hair spray and the sugared coconut of tawny body sprays, it is like being in a soft cocoon of sugar and love.
...
And there’s Emily keening over the toilet bowl after practice, begging me to kick her in the gut so she can expel the rest, all that cookie dough and cool ranch, the smell making me roil. Emily, a girl made entirely of doughnut sticks, cheese powder and haribo.

The smell of leaves--burning, dried, wet--is important in the book, appearing in moments when Addy, our narrator, feels a rare, real connection, or longs for a connection she once had:
Where’d that world go, that world where you’re a kid, and now I can’t remember noticing anything, not the smell of the leaves or the sharp curl of a dried maple on your ankles, walking? I live in cars now, and my own bedroom, the windows sealed shut, my mouth to my phone, hand slick around its neon jelly case, face closed to the world, heart closed to everything.

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