Lampshades

Overview

Sophira van Ness is obsessed with spiritual purity, death, and hygiene -- and consoled only by chocolate and frequent baths. Disturbing, but charismatic, Sophira draws the reader into a world of haunted reality and perverse glamour, watching, unblinkingly, as she visits the Queen at her toilet and as she falls in love with a latter-day Jack the Ripper.Lampshades is both blackly funny and utterly original, and confronts banality and evil with a cool, unflinching gaze.
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Overview

Sophira van Ness is obsessed with spiritual purity, death, and hygiene -- and consoled only by chocolate and frequent baths. Disturbing, but charismatic, Sophira draws the reader into a world of haunted reality and perverse glamour, watching, unblinkingly, as she visits the Queen at her toilet and as she falls in love with a latter-day Jack the Ripper.Lampshades is both blackly funny and utterly original, and confronts banality and evil with a cool, unflinching gaze.
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Editorial Reviews

GQ
A work of imaginative power.
Sunday Times (London)
Lolita with a brain...Like reading Francoise Sagan under the influence of barbiturates...a fictional voyage into a world of total taboo.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
British journalist Morin plays with fire in her first novel by making her heroine, Scottish 16-year-old Sophira Van Ness, a Hitler fan. After her despised mother suddenly departs for India, Sophira falls in with young people who have joined the staff of Balmoral Castle (Queen Elizabeth's Scotland residence) and befriends a charismatic boy named Jack Gray. Sophira goes to London with him, where he deserts her. She takes up with a Count Saadi, a concentration-camp survivor who is financing a bio-pic about Adolf Hitler. All of these incidents are told in exclamation-punctuated prose that seems to want to race the reader to the end of the page, as if the point of writing were who gets there first. The slang, the dismissive comments of Sophira and the set pieces (as when Sophira encounters the Queen in the loo) provide some funny moments. Sophira is a veritable collection of abhorrences -- she hates 'fat gut buckets,' the middle-aged, the body in general, blacks, Jews and all her living relatives. With her need to keep an eye open for bathrooms wherever she is, she is recognizably a type from the dark side of adolescence, so that it makes sense from her perspective that Hitler is one of the flowers of evil, a sort of Aubrey Beardsley picture come to life. The problem is that, of course, that doesn't make sense from any other perspective. This is a high-wire act, and Morin missteps when she introduces Count Saadi and his brother, who are reminiscent of the kind of decadent Jewish stereotypes of Nazi propaganda. For all the talent on display here, the novel fails to overcome this jarring lapse of taste.
Library Journal
Sixteen-year-old Sophira van Ness has a lot to be depressed about. Her twin brother drowned while the pair were in the throes of torturing a cat, her mother has all-but abandoned her to travel to India, and her uncle has been arrested for sexual improprieties. Yet her response to these misfortunes is equally hideous. Mean and rancorous, manipulative and conniving, she twists her fear and loathing into a grotesquely racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic agenda. Her contrived means of self-comfort -- ritualistic 'purification' baths and fantasies about Adolf Hitler -- reinforce the reader's dislike of her. Morin (Dead Glamorous, Overlook, 1997) never explains Sophira's motivations or obsessions. As a result, the book has a voyeuristic feel that calls into question Morin's point. A look at adolescent madness? A view of misery turned pathological? It's anyone's guess. -- Eleanor J. Bader, New School for Social Research, New York
Michael Porter
We learn enough of her background to develop a reluctant sympathy for her, but it's strained to the breaking point by her unrelenting nihilism. . . .[Morin] seems intent on subverting any expectation that Sophira will abandon her ways or be punished for them. -- The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
The British columnist and memoirist [Dead Glamorous, 1997) cobbles together a kind of female, '90s, Scottish-nihilist version of Catcher iIn the Rye, featuring a fascist teenager who wanders London's streets seeking out her true nature by shacking up with a fat old man, thinking mean thoughts about her mother, and pursuing the serial killer she loves. A big difference is that this heroine is stupid, racist, and unsympathetic, and the plot goes nowhere. Sophira van Ness is an unhappy 16-year-old: she hates her mother, who sold the family's beloved mansion to its owner's former maid; she hates filth, which she fights off with several showers a day and heavy doses of disinfectant; and she hates her life, stuck in Glasgow with no one to talk to but her imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler, who she believes watches over her. Alienated from the human race since her brother's death when they were children, Sophira apathetically accepts an invitation to share a bunk with a hanger-on at Balmoral Castle until they can cadge a ride to London. Unfortunately, Sophira hates London, too, with its filthy bathrooms and distasteful mix of races and social classes. Also, she has no money, but this problem is solved when Jack Grey, 'schoolboy assassin aspiring actor and billionaire,' invites her to share his hotel room while he spends his night—apparently—murdering women. When Jack disappears for good, Sophira finds another sponsor in Count Saadi, a Jewish concentration camp survivor who's producing a film about Hitler. The Count puts her up in his luxurious apartment, asking only for one chaste kiss a day, until Sophira realizes to her horror that she's falling in love with him.Fleeing back to Glasgow, she learns that the maid who owned the mansion has died and the house has been sold again—to none other than Jack Grey, who, as star of a new film about Hitler's life, now fully embodies Sophira's ideal. Adolescent nastiness, pointless provocation, and empty attitude, whipped together into a muddy mix.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780879518578
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 5/1/1998
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 5.62 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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