Title: The Smash-Up
Author: Ali Benjamin
Pages: 352 Pages
After years spent in the city, working with his business partner Randy on Bränd media, Ethan finds himself in the quiet, closed-off town of Starkfield. His wife Zenobia is perpetually distracted by the swirling #MeToo politics, the Kavanaugh hearings, and her duties to the feminist activism group she formed: All Them Witches. Ethan finds himself caught between their regular meetings at his home and the battle to get his livewire daughter Alex to sleep.
But the new, stilted rhythm of his life is interrupted when he receives a panicked message. Accusations. Against Randy. A slew of them. And Ethan is abruptly forced to question everything: his past, his future, his marriage, and what he values most.
Unrelenting in its satire, The Smash-up jolts you into the twisted psyche of successful brand advertising, where historic exploitation is only ever a panicked phone-call away. With magnetic energy and doses of comic wit, Benjamin creates a world of social media algorithms, extreme polarization, the collapsing of identity into tweet-sized spaces, and the spectre of violence that can be found even in the quietest places.
The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin kept appearing on my Twitter feed. It was lauded as the latest new voice and a must read book and so I bought into the hype and requested it from NetGalley. Once again – because when so many people are singing a books praise – the Tweeters were right. The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin is not a comfortable read. The dichotomy of opposing forces – Masculinity verses Feminism (not the traditional opposite of femininity) is central to the development of the story and what Benjamin has managed to do so successfully is give both sides of the argument merit. Her take on feminism is brilliant, moving, intense, heartbreaking and, at times, all too real. This is especially powerful in the stream of conscious ramblings of Zen. Meanwhile, Ethan’s helplessness and inability to have any control reflects the worries of modern man.
The Smash-Up really is a powerful story that generously lends equal importance to topics that invariably lack equality.
The Smash-Up by Ali Benjamin is available now.
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