Wrecking Ballby Christiana Spens
Armed with trust funds and pedigrees but bent on rebellion, twenty-somethings Alice, Harry, Rose, and Hugo are teetering on the brink of self-destruction. With Manhattan and London as their playgrounds, they chase oblivion—and their next high—through a glittering blur of nightclubs, decadent parties, high fashion, and underground music scenes,
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Armed with trust funds and pedigrees but bent on rebellion, twenty-somethings Alice, Harry, Rose, and Hugo are teetering on the brink of self-destruction. With Manhattan and London as their playgrounds, they chase oblivion—and their next high—through a glittering blur of nightclubs, decadent parties, high fashion, and underground music scenes, hard-partying on the razor's edge with a never-ending cocktail of drugs and booze. Insomniacs and unstoppable, these four lost souls ride the extreme highs and devastating lows of a summer that quickly reaches a crescendo of music, heat, and hedonism. Wavering between moments of revelation and ruin, they illuminate a generation given everything—except an answer to the timeless question: Who am I?
From a remarkable new literary voice comes a startling, fresh, strikingly candid novel of addiction and excess.
Spens's protagonist, Alice, just a few years older than the debut novelist herself, is the product of a transcontinental teenagehood, a British-born child of exceptionally wealthy, divorced parents with a tony Connecticut boarding school education-including intensives in psychedelics, cocaine and the old vodka-in-an-Evian-bottle trick. After graduation, Alice hangs around London dabbling in fashion and the attention of men-first Hugo, a man twice her age, and then Harry, a depressed would-be songwriter with a pedigree similar to her own. Ostensibly the story of Alice's unrequited love for Harry, Spens's novel also forward marches through fashion shows and fetes, cigarettes and pills, stargazing and navel-gazing. The narrative flits back and forth in time and alternates hazy points of view among Alice, Harry and Alice's pill-happy best friend, Rose. The big field party that brings all three stories together, the Wrecking Ball, gives them a suitably soft spot to land, but the confessional narrative collapses in amoral inanity before then, ending up in a discomfiting netherworld between Gossip Girl and A Million Little Pieces. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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The Wrecking Ball
By Christiana Spens
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008
All right reserved.
Thursday, July 5
I don't even want to think about last December in Manhattan so I change the subject and light up a Marlboro and pretend I'm interested in London Fashion Week when truth is I don't give a fuck. Rosé pretends she can understand what I'm saying even though we both know I can't string a sentence together anymore, and I'm not really talking, I'm just regurgitating an article I half read in Vogue this morning over my breakfast of orange juice and vodka.
". . . And I'm so intrigued by Gucci's new inspiration by the Russian Revolution and the whole Socialite Manifesto is obviously so relevant and yet ironic and yet I'm actually more attracted to Versace . . ." I get distracted suddenly by a cute car in the street, we're on Piccadilly and it's little and red and I don't know the make but it's probably an Aston Martin and I gasp and say, "That's adorable," but I fail to put any passion into my exclamation and as I say it realize I sound fucked and decide I'm boring Rosé and she's boring me, and "It's been so great seeing you, but I have to be somewhere, you're looking gorgeous by the way, speak soon yeah?" and cut across the busy street and make my way to the Lansdowne because it's close and I need a break from the city, it's socrowded and I'm sick of having to make such an effort just to walk in a straight line.
Summer's beginning to fade outside and the skyline's drenched in its usual smoggy burnt umber causing me almost to fall into a slumber, only I don't because I have to look something close to socially acceptable.
So I order a vodka cranberry and pick up a Tatler and let my mind wander.
And I'm wired and I'm tired as I notice the chair is the color of marijuana and I begin to smell the chair though have a feeling it's only the scent of my jacket, a white Miu Miu thing.
The blandly elegant surroundings make me feel comfortable and soothed and I sit back and sink into familiarity and old glamour. Another text message reminds me that I still have to RSVP to my friend's twenty-first that is tomorrow or the next day, but I'm only going if Harry's going, and as he hasn't called me back I just don't know anymore, and I wish he would call because I want the attention, but sadly he's too high to care. He's a bit of a player, you see.
It's occasions like this, when I'm feeling vapid and forgetting details like the day and the time and the city and the point of it all that I wonder where it all went wrong, knowing that I should have known better, wondering why I didn't . . .
Why now I have to go out sixty nights in a row, trying not to notice that it has started to affect my once fresh image with signs of debauchery and abandon . . . that now people think I'm just another wasted Sloane with too much money, martinis and marijuana. And I can't decide if I care what people think or not.
I'm feeling a bit out of it as all the memories flash by, feeling a sort of rush as the past seeps into present—or maybe it's just the cocaine, I don't know.
Over years of sleepless nights and early mornings I have tried to piece the nights together. I used to check my phone to see which people I called, and found strange new numbers, and strange new names, thinking it was all quite funny. Only I'm not really laughing anymore because the novelty has worn thin, so I just gaze into reminiscence with a rush that isn't really high anymore, just familiar, remembering events forgotten again so many times, all adrift in the bacchanal.
Although Alice grew up in South Kensington, her parents divorced when she was thirteen and her mother, originally from America, put her into boarding school in Connecticut, and things suddenly became all confusing.
She started smoking, fell into a bad crowd of aspiring models and socialites, and drowned her sorrows with raspberry vodka in an Evian bottle during classes. She acquired a Connecticut lilt, a Calvin Klein pout and an athletic boyfriend. By the time Alice was fourteen, she had it all.
By the time she was fifteen, she wanted more.
So that summer she lost her virginity at a party in Long Island to a preppy drug dealer and had an acid trip that changed her life.
In a twilight drenched in humidity, the sky was all one color, all one shade of blue. The buildings were clear and defined and minimal, looking like they could fall and fold back at any moment, just bits of paper. These buildings had self-destructive inclinations, the houses were made of cards and cars and roads were built up like paper.
"Your innocence is fucked!"
Some of the houses fell apart easily and lay in sheets of color on the ground. All the cars were big. Alice heard the music of two threads and not much more than that. Dan said, more demure now, "This country is fucked." The lights streamed by in lines. The light at the junction shrouded the faces in red light like masks. The car swerved. Even though it was all folded down, the simple silhouettes of buildings were pretty in a bland kind of way, paced out and spaced out and meaningless.
The car stopped sometime. Alice got out and went to get a ride home from Miranda, because her purse was in her car. Alice was sitting next to Jordan again, the skinny girl smoking a cigarette now. They drove off and after ten minutes Alice lit up a clove and smoked out of the open window, looking at her bubblegum pink nails and the golden ash flying out behind. Some ash got into her hair but it didn't seem to matter. The driver seemed not so coherent and for a lot of streets they were lost. Her boyfriend passed out but it was just a joke. Then they started arguing, "Quit yelling, Miranda—I don't know where the fuck we are any more than you do."
Excerpted from The Wrecking Ball by Christiana Spens Copyright © 2008 by Christiana Spens. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
Christiana Spens is a student at the University of Cambridge. She has been writing art and fashion pieces for Studio International since she was fifteen years old, and continues to write for Rockfeedback. The Wrecking Ball is her first novel.
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Funny and dark novel, I liked the cover too. Reminded me a lot of being that age. I loved the style of writing and the short chapters - gave an interesting structure and atmosphere to the novel. There was an depth and melancholy to the book also, beneath the witty observations and sketched out characters.
I really enjoyed this fast-paced satire on the London / New York music and fashion scenes. Reminded me of 90s authors such as Bret Easton Ellis, MacInerney and Coupland.
This is kinda like me!
A brilliant debut from a daring young author, 'The Wrecking Ball' was a thrill to read. It reminded me of Evelyn Waugh if he had lived in the Noughties - Gossip Girl flirting with Bret Easton Ellis. I thoroughly recommend it for bright young things... a quick and memorable read.