One of the many dangers of working as a stripper at “The Mars Room” in San Francisco is stalkers. You never know who might find you fascinating, feeding you crisp $20s until suddenly $20s aren’t enough and obsession turns into and watching every moment of life. Riding the bus or getting groceries, the man on the motorcycle is watching.
“The Mars Room” is tale of Romy Hall’s life growing up rough in the Bay Area, working “The Mars Room” and her life in an all-Women’s prison sentenced to life for murder. Tough, mean, sad, touching, and thrilling in turn, the Mars Room lifts you into a seedy world of prison politics. You may feel familiar with the atmosphere if you’ve spent any time watching “Orange is the New Black.” Still, this isn’t a rip-off of the show or book, just a revisiting of familiar subject matter. The characters are vivid, guards horrid, living conditions squalid, and the drive to make sense of existing inside the joint pointed and ever elusive.
Rachel Kushner has written an entertaining and easy to read novel that is free of pretension. While you may feel familiar with the subject matter it is always entertaining and fresh.
*The Mars Room is on the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence Longlist
Bleak. Grim. Dark. Choose your adjective, or go to the thesaurus for more. This is not a cheerful book, but I found it worth reading for a couple of reasons. One, the writing is brilliant, and two, the author takes us into a world few of us will ever know -- that of a women's prison in California. Follow her at your peril!
I read the first chapter, started on the second and just did not like this book.
I stopped reading at page 178. It's not that I felt the book was bad, I lost interest. I almost stopped at an earlier page because of certain sexual content, but I got to where I did. I skimmed the rest of the book to the ending. I liked the rails comment.
Even without reading the comments, I can guess that people are going to have a problem with the protagonist of this novel and the grim subject matter. The main character is a stripper who kills a man and loses custody of her child. Much of the novel is set in a woman's prison (It ain't no "Orange is the New Black."). Good fiction should bring you into contact with characters that you normally wouldn't think about or encounter, and that's exactly what Rachel Kushner's novel does. She's one of our best writers, and this is one of my favorite books of the year. "The Flame Throwers" is equally good.
I always enjoy reading a novel whose setting is San Francisco and though this one isn't, much of the main character's memories are. Not exactly a page-turner, but when I sat down and made the effort I found this book turned into an interesting read. Enough of an interesting read in fact that I'd be open to checking out other works by this author.
Wow, I had a hard time getting through this novel. I succeeded, but it was a slog. Took me much longer than most of my other reads, and particularly novels. This slowness was likely due to the subject matter... most of story takes place in a women's prison. It puts the reader into the minds of murderers, drug addicts, bad cops, and stalkers. It's not a fun place to reside. I didn't much care for this book, although others seem to really like the author and her work based on how many people were waiting for the book.
I made it through 93 pages and gave up. The premise of the book sounded interesting, but interesting it was not! Dull and choppy is how I would describe this book. I think the writing style of the author was far too distracting. She flip flopped from one thought to another quickly and constantly, thus the "choppy" feeling of the book. 93 pages in and basically nothing interesting had happened at all besides confusion and random thoughts.
Read about 140 pages and for one of the few times ever, I put the book down. It's well-written but the book is a string of depressing tales that became harder and harder to slog through. It's my first attempt at reading a Kushner novel so it may be simply that she is not my cup of tea.
Remarkable novel tackling the subject of life behind bars, exploring the lives of the incarcerated and those who support and serve them.
Don't let the description of this novel put you off reading it. The setting may be inside a prison but the thought behind this novel is much bigger in scope. The author has brilliantly structured the novel in such a way as to expose the injustices of our judicial system, foster home care, poverty, illegal drug usage all the horrors of a way of life Romy (the main character) was born into and could not escape from. Here is a quote from the book, " What I eventually came to understand, about San Francisco, was that I was immersed in the beauty and barred from seeing it."
A memorable novel one I won't soon forget.
An excerpt of this book in the New York Times was very good so I checked this book out. Unfortunately, the excerpt proved to be the best part. The author describes a lot of extraneous characters who have little to do with the plot, also there is a ton of gratuitous sex which is distracting. Finally, the ending is sudden and wholly unexpected as if the author got bored and decided to wrap it up. I was disappointed with this book, to say the least!
I dare you to try and do anything other than read this absorbing novel. The Mars Room wears you down. You'll feel despondent and upset for these horrible women who did awful things. Kushner's obviously done meticulous research to get this story just right. The characters are fleshed out completely. The writing is crisp, sharp, and effortless. This story goes places I did not expect and is all the better for it.
This fascinating novel sketches lives that have gone "off the rails." Lives that have rejected the rules and regulations of polite society. Romy Hall is serving two life sentences for one crime. A corrupt cop is in special lockdown to protect him from other prisoners while he does his time. Many of the prisoners don't even seem to understand how prison is a punishment rather than a career choice. The book's character studies are powerful and deeply affecting; this book had a long-lasting impact on me. Kushner explores the extent to which action is forced by circumstance, and how our punishments too often don't fit our crimes.