I started reading The Girl Who Was Saturday Night by Heather O’Neill, mostly because the write-up on the inside sleeve seemed intriguing, and it’s set in my hometown. I love novels set in my hometown (Montreal) because I can always relate to the most minor of details and it’s also nostalgic because I don’t live there anymore.
So I’m about a third of the way into the book and it still hasn’t grabbed me – this is practically unheard of for me. I generally get swept up in fiction pretty quickly and then it’s hard for me to put the book down until I’m done.
It’s not that it’s poorly written, either. I do find O’Neill’s style interesting. Yet I haven’t touched the book in several days.
I think I’m having a few problems with the story.
It’s set in an era when I had just started to hit clubs and bars, and was generally enjoying what Montreal’s party scene had to offer. Yet I don’t recognize the bleakness of the city she is writing about. The vibe is more akin to what I imagine Montreal being like several decades prior to when the story takes place. It could be because I lived in a pristine suburb growing up, and the heroine is definitely from a different socioeconomic background – but I spent a great deal of time downtown, frequenting bars, restaurants, some in the area she is supposed to hang out in…and I don’t recognize the level of bleakness.
Just in general, it’s been 140 pages of showing us that her life sucks and has pretty much always sucked. I get it. Life sucks for her. Can we get to something juicy or at least temporarily happy?
I don’t mind ‘bleak’. Some of the best fictional literature is bleak. White Oleander is one of the most depressing stories, but Janet Fitch had me riveted by the tragic beauty of it the whole way through. This story, however, is just dark like I remember Bonheur d’occasion (Gabrielle Roy) being dark, and that book is set much earlier in history, during the Great Depression.
All this complaining, and I’ll bet that once I start the next chapter, the mood of the story changes, or at least the pace improves, and I’ll have to eat my words. I’ll let you know. 😏