Motion Sickness, the latest novel from acclaimed cult author Lynne Tillman (Weird Fucks, Haunted Houses) is not your standard fare.
We begin in a room in Paris at what may be the middle of our nameless narrator’s journey. From there we are taken through Europe, living at one point in a fascist-run hotel, journeying across Italy in a London taxi, then getting drunk with Irish Pete in Tangier.
Our travels are experienced from the point of view of a young American woman; her observations on food, culture, and the people she meets along the way are often humorous, sometimes tinged with sadness, but always immersive.
This is a salt-sweet novel covering topics from sociocultural differences to cosmetic surgery – but fear not, contrary to its title, you won’t need to grab a box of travel sickness tablets from the pharmacy. The journey is languid, with the narrator never truly desperate, never really searching for more than whatever opportunity should cross her path.
With the central character constantly reinventing herself with each encounter, Tillman gracefully reflects how transient our connections can be. The narrator collects postcards (remember those?) from the various cities and landmarks she visits, intent on sending them to her previous companions or her mother; but often she tears them up, her words left unsaid.
Her motives are unclear, and this lack of clarity pushes the reader to try to view her through the other characters, to whom a stronger connection is sometimes easier. This may be the point: do we ever really know anyone? Motion Sickness is without doubt a brilliantly written and researched novel, brimming with interesting facts, movie-like scenes, curious places, and even more curious people. I’d write more, but I’m off to buy a railcard and some euros.
Motion Sickness is out now, published by Peninsula Press. Buy here.