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The Mars Room ✻ [EPUB] ✰ The Mars Room By Rachel Kushner ❅ – Natus-physiotherapy.co.uk From twice National Book Award–nominated Rachel Kushner whose Flamethrowers was called “the best most brazen most interesting book of the year” Kathryn Schulz New York magazine comes a spectacul From twice National Book Award–nominated Rachel Kushner whose Flamethrowers was called “the best most brazen most interesting book of the year” Kathryn Schulz New York magazine comes a spectacularly compelling heart stopping novel about a life gone off the rails in contemporary AmericaIt’s and Romy Hall is at the start of two consecutive life sentences at Stanville Women’s Correctional Facility deep in California’s Central Valley Outside is the world from which she has been severed the San Francisco of her youth The Mars Kindle - and her young son Jackson Inside is a new reality thousands of women hustling for the bare essentials needed to survive; the bluffing and pageantry and casual acts of violence by guards and prisoners alike; and the deadpan absurdities of institutional living which Kushner evokes with great humor and precisionStunning and unsentimental The Mars Room demonstrates new levels of mastery and depth in Kushner’s work It is audacious and tragic propulsive and yet beautifully refined As James Wood said in The New Yorker her fiction “succeeds because it is so full of vibrantly different stories and histories all of them particular all of them brilliantly alive”“Kushner is going to be one we turn to for our serious pleasures and for the insight and wisdom we’ll be needing in hard times to come She is a novelist of the very first order” —Robert Stone“Kushner is a young master I honestly don’t know how she is able to know so much and convey all of this in such a completely entertaining and mesmerizing way” —George Saunders.


10 thoughts on “The Mars Room

  1. Emily May Emily May says:

    2 12 stars It's taken me a long time to admit that I just didn't like The Mars Room very much Even as I was struggling to keep my eyes on the page keep reading and not get distracted by that piece of fluff on the floor I was doing my best to write a positive review in my headI thought I would love it It felt like I should What doesn't sound great about a gritty prison novel dissecting class wealth and other power structures in the penal system? Diverse characters complicated family dynamics and unfair bullshit that sees poor working class women given shoddy legal representation? Sign me up to be pissed off in the way that leads to 5 star ratingsBut I found this book so disjointed aloof and boring Even Romy's first person chapters felt distant and impersonal like she was looking down on events from far away and not living them Perhaps this is some kind of literary techniue but it did nothing except make me feel completely disconnectedI understand the importance of The Mars Room It takes a look at how socioeconomic factors affect rate of incarceration the uality of legal defense received and recidivism The protagonist 28 year old Romy Hall killed a man who stalked her incessantly for months but the jury didn't see any of that All they saw was the brutality of the crime Now Romy is serving consecutive life sentences in a California women's correctional facilityThese themes speak to something close to my heart the way poverty and background can deeply affect all aspects of a person's life I'm very intrigued and angered by economic power structures and I'm particularly interested in Marxist Feminism This book didn't have to work hard to sell me on its point; it just had to keep me interested in its characters and the story being told And sadly that's where it failedThe story didn't flow It jumped around between perspectives and between first and third person in short choppy chapters Obviously any person with a heart would feel sorry for Romy but that's about the extent of the emotional connection I felt a kind of universal empathy for her but no personal attachment to her circumstances I also don't know why Doc's chapters were necessaryIt's strange how I felt like Kushner showed a lot of awful things happening but without conveying any of the emotion you would expect to go with them But maybe it's just me The early reviews have been glowingBlog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube


  2. Angela M Angela M says:

    35 stars I read an in depth article in New Yorker Magazine that made it apparent why Rachel Kushner can so vividly bring her characters in this book to life The link to the article is below She followed an inmate at a California prison because she wanted to have people in her life “that the State of California rendered invisible to others” She brings these real people to us through a cast of characters in her fictional account of life in prison This book definitely depicts experiences that are far removed from mine Not just in the prison but the world where the prisoners came from strip cubs doing and dealing drugs hit jobs getting beaten enduring abuse as children I found this stressful to read and it was definitely out of my comfort zone But that’s not a bad thing as I learned It’s vulgar at times brutal a lot of the time raw most of the time and I assume pretty realistic given the research that the author has doneWhile we come to know the stories of a number of characters this felt like it was mostly Romy Hall’s story A single mother formerly a stripper at The Mars Room Romy has killed a man who stalked her is serving two consecutive life sentences plus 6 years There are other inmates whose stories we learn Fernandez Bette and Doc in the men’s prison We come to know someone from the outside Gordon Hauser a prison teacher who gets involved in the lives of some of the inmates mailing letters buying them books flower seeds a paint set Gordon seems to reflect what Kushner wants us to see that these inmates are human beings It’s about the flaws in our society the flaws in a justice system that won’t allow someone to tell their side of the story the flaws in our penal system It is also about the flaws of inmates at a California prison whose fate on the one hand is a result of their choices However their circumstances their lives before incarceration make it difficult to be unsympathetic I received an advanced copy of this book from Scribner through NetGalley and Edelweiss


  3. Charlotte May Charlotte May says:

    If I had never worked at The Mars Room If I had never met Creep Kennedy If Creep Kennedy had not decided to stalk me But he did decide to and then he did it relentlessly If none of that had happened I would not be on a bus heading for a life in a concrete slot The Mars Room grabbed me from the get go and I was hooked Romy Hall is serving two life sentences for murdering her stalker in front of a child Before this she worked as a stripper in a club called The Mars Room We follow both her life in the present in prison along with all the other women serving time; as well as flash backs to her life before bringing up her son Jackson moving house to get away from her stalkerThere are also chapters involving Doc a bent police officer serving time for murder the woman who talked him into it is actually on death row in the same prison as Romy We see how he was besotted with Betty would do anything for her which turned out to include murder He is kept in an extra tight security prison along with paedophiles and rapists as they along with ex coppers are most likely to be attacked by the other inmatesAnother POV is Gordon Hauser working in the women's prison as a teacher; helping most of them get their high school diplomas Though he freuently is screwed over by some of the inmatesThis book is dark but gripping it shines a light on a part of society we see very little of We learn that everything isn't all black and white Some of these women have served 20 years for minor offences whereas others were cold hard killers Who are we to decide what length of time is enough for a crime? We are left with the ongoing uestion was Romy in the right to murder her stalker When we finally read about how that scene played out I still wasn't sure myself Yet that one choice has sent her to prison for the rest of her days Life does not go off the rails because it is the rails goes where it goes


  4. Elyse Walters Elyse Walters says:

    Library Overdrive Audiobookread by Rachel Kushner I didn’t even consider this book when it first popped up “Telex From Cuba” was a little too politically dense and long There was a good story inside but I remember the time effort I put in and wasn’t looking forward to ‘that’ experience again Plus I have a paper copy of “The Flame Throwers” which I’ve started and stopped too many times the damn print is tinySo with low expectations I downloaded the public library’s AudiobookI’m BLOWN AWAY BY Racheland what she did with her VOICE Absolutely I think this is a phenomenal novel and I still can’t get over how perfectly magnificent her voice is for the character of Romy Hall Her audio voice is so darn praiseworthy I just can’t say it enough about the impact I felt it made on her book From start to finish I was bound tightly listening to “The Mars Room” I could visualize the strip club in San Francisco the bickering between the girls the men the hustle the rough reality the money passed I saw the Golden Gate Bridge the way Romy saw it a curseSan Francisco was a place where fights started I saw the bars in the Sunset districtwith 10 year old girls hanging out near by already drinking the white powder already raped I saw the evilI saw the choices I saw the harsh realities of our prison system the inmates and the guardsa women’s prison from women’s perspective Disturbing bookYES yet I can’t stress enough RACHEL’S VOICEshe does something to brighten the bleak So tender so sweet so loving compassionateSO REALI really want to hug this girl I’m so incredibly moved the work she did the truth she exposed through fiction storytelling power and the brilliance in her delivery


  5. Debbie Debbie says:

    When a friend asked me whether I liked the book I was reading I told her “It’s refreshing A novel about women in prison” I was dead serious It was only after my friend was losing it laughing so hard that I realized how weird my comment was Laughing now too I tried to defend myself I just get tired of straight old life; there’s so much “regular” out there Can I help it if I like to read about down and outers? The truth is the dark is sometimes my light—I prefer rain to sun for instance A friend once read that that was a sign of mental illness Really? lolYes this book was refreshing with its grit and spit edge and energy It’s mostly the story about Romy who’s serving a life sentence for murder It’s impossible not to feel sorry for her She had a bum lawyer and a crazy long sentence and she has a 7 year old kid who she most likely will never see againOh what a rich book Everyone is so vivid and real and nothing is sugar coated The prisoners are smart whacked desperate resigned sorry tough What stood out to me was the intense camaraderie and eually intense solitudeKushner humanizes the prisoners without going overboard There are no Tony Sopranos—no big time killers who we are manipulated into feeling sorry for We see how the prisoners’ precarious life on the outside where they were barely surviving in the underbelly of society served as a catalyst and a preview of their doomed futures Something that stuck in my mind was how adaptable the prisoners were They learned how to survive They created a tribe a microcosm of society with its own rules and routines Lots of bartering for precious goods One thing I love is the way Kushner shows us how two opposite conditions a sense of isolation and a sense of community co existed Even though this is in no way a message book I couldn’t help but think about the injustices done to prisoners For example there are two transgender characters and their situation is ten times worse than others’ It was horrifyingOne funny thing While I was reading I realized that the tone and content reminded me a lot of The Largesse of the Sea Maiden by Denis Johnson a book I read recently and liked Turns out the author mentions Denis Johnson and his book Jesus' Son his most famous book which I haven’t yet read a few times in the book Pretty weird huh? In fact a teacher at the prison gives Romy Jesus' Son and after reading it she said “I was paranoid he thought I was a no good ex junkie like the characters in the stories He said he gave it to me because it was excellent That it was one of his favorite books”So it sounds like Kushner was maybe emulating one of her own favorite writers and wanted readers to check him out too And funny a complaint I had with The Largesse of the Sea Maiden applies to The Mars Room too The rich engrossing stories of far out characters somewhat interfere with the plot Both books read like a series of powerful vignettes I both liked and disliked this I loved hearing about the down and outers but I also wanted the plot to move along Sometimes the story would get disjointed because of the segues Plus there were new characters introduced late in the game Even though most of them were just passing through it often slowed me down Man I wish I weren’t so picky but once I see a teensy little problem I can’t un see it Two other minor complaints There was a point of view problem a couple of times which is always jolting Also there are a few yes just a few pages that seemed lecture y a side trip about rich vs poor and another about DostoevskyBut these complaints are all minor because the language is so damn rich the characters so vivid You really feel like you are sitting there with them; the writer is amazingly good with prison details and the story sounds so authentic Kushner takes us into a world that most of us can’t imagine; she helps us imagine itReaders from San Francisco will love this book because Kushner paints a vivid picture of the city including street names district names etc It turns out that Kushner grew up in San Francisco and lived a life on the edge too In some ways she identified with her main character Romy although they were from different classesCheck out this great article on Kushner and the making of the book you must check out this particularly fantastic article in The New Yorker which talks about Kushner’s unusual life and how it affected her writing The article also shows us that Kushner did her homework—she got to know prisoners This makes the story that much authentichttpswwwnewyorkercommagazine20I am now officially fascinated by Kushner I must read her earlier novels I must And believe me I’d sign up for her memoir in a San Francisco minute Hope someday she writes one


  6. Barry Pierce Barry Pierce says:

    Orange is the New Bleh


  7. Shelby *trains flying monkeys* Shelby *trains flying monkeys* says:

    I'm one to admit when I just do not get the hype on a book This is one that I just did not jump on the train with I am bit confused by it actually The majority of the book is about Romy who has been sentenced to two life sentences for murdering her stalker She is poor and worked as a stripperso she basically stood no chance in the justice systemThis part of the book kept me interested For some sicko reason prison type dramas are one of my favorite subjectsand it does not have to be farting unicorn type storylinesFor exampleone of my favorite shows of all time This one is sorta dark The women in the prison are not being portrayed as innocentsthey did their crimes So it was not that that kinda soured this book for meIt was the jumping time line and viewpoints You had so many different storylines that were thrown into the mix that NEVER came together At the end of the book I thought maybe it would all tie in but it doesn't It was just random Then when Romy's crime is finally explained I did not really like her much either I may need a warning on some books that I'm just not smart or edgey enough to get them Booksource Netgalley in exchange for review


  8. Perry Perry says:

    The Mars Room is a provocative raveworthy exploration of choices or indeed the absence of any perceived choice for adolescent and teen female criminals on the lower echelon of the socio economic scale who grow up sexually abused addicted to street drugs andor engaged in a sex related trade because they've had no choice in where how and by whom they were raised the adverse societal effects being the counterproductive institutionalization of a legion of women their repetitive recidivism and a vicious intergenerational cycle of passing down the pain Ms Kushner avoids the easy traps of a excusing crimes with what some might call a societal cop out or b downplaying a woman's free will in choosing to commit a crime instead of walking away Rather as all estimable authors do she deftly sculpts hard truths between lines behind bars and through an array of colorful supporting characters Ms Kushner approaches mastery in portraying authentic 20 something females from the outer fringes who contain a multitude of layers The Mars Room is uite remarkably an improvement on her exuisite craftwork in creating the 20 something free spirited artist Reno in The Flamethrowers which preceded this novel The novel is tantamount to an indictment of a legal system that pushes public defenders to plead out not to buck the system and when they do actually try a case at the client's insistence engage in shoddy trial practices that show a reckless indifference to duty justice and truth In the trial of the accused 28 year old protagonist for the murder of her stalker her attorney failed to fight to prove that the victim brazenly and relentlessly stalked the young lady over the course of several months spinelessly capitulating to the prosecutor's objection and motion to exclude such evidence at trial on the shameful grounds that its introduction would impermissibly allow the jury to consider the victim's prior conduct in determining the guilt of the accused which is a bass ackwards way of turning the Rape Shield Law on its head; all of which resulted in the conviction of the young woman and her sentencing to consecutive life sentences The novel further offers a sublime and visceral reflection on the context of it all against the vastness and beauty of the mountainous terrain surrounding the California women's correctional facility in which the protagonist is imprisoned peppered with comparisons to and excerpts from the journals of Thoreau and Ted KaczynskiMs Kushner has brilliantly structured a memorable arresting and enduring novel that should change the reader's perceptions of presentformer children of the streets and of foster homes showing how they view the world around them much differently than most do In some ways they are perceptive than those caught in the rat race but in others particularly in their formative years they're blinded by dire circumstances What I eventually came to understand about San Francisco was that I was immersed in beauty and barred from seeing it Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for providing me an advance copy of this novel in return for an honest review


  9. Esil Esil says:

    The Mars Room pushed all the right buttons for me I liked Kushner’s The Flamethrowers but this was something else altogether Here Kushner uses her talent to extraordinarily potent effect The story is set in the early 2000s focused primarily on Romy Hall who is in a women’s prison for life for murder Kushner does a great job of showing the reality of Romy’s life — where she came from how she got to prison and her life in prison There is no sugar coating Romy’s life is harsh and she is hard edged At the same time Kushner does a great job showing how smart resourceful and resilient Romy is But life has offered very few choices and plenty of traps to Romy Somehow I found the end heartbreaking but brilliant Besides Romy The Mars Room features a few other characters connected to Romy or life in prison Ultimately Kushner’s book suggests that the path that gets women into prison is often laden with poverty addiction and abuse But her message is delivered without polemic or simplistic solutions By a strange coincidence today I tuned into Writers and Company which featured an interview with Kushner She describes the research she did about women in prison before writing The Mars Room If anything the interview added to my enthusiasm for the book A lot of thought empathy and research went into this oneHighly recommendedThanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy


  10. Justin Tate Justin Tate says:

    At first this seems like a monumental achievement; a masterful storyteller giving voice to the incarcerated Difficult characters come to life in unexpected ways They're complex flawed a little evil and a lot good The writing as in the actual formulation of words is truly impressive About a third of the way in however it becomes abundantly clear that no plot will emerge and the same old theme will be sung many times over The edgy characters lose their edge and the mystery of how everything will tie together dissipates when we realize this isn't that kind of book It's not going to come together We can rip out the pages throw them in the air and glue them back in random order and the book will be just as good and bad as beforeI don't regret reading it though It's not boring These are characters whose voices need to be heard I just wish something had happened Strippers give lap dances we get it Shenanigans happen in prison no kidding? Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people Yes yes It's true That's all a great set up I could read it for 100 pages easy But it kept going And going And then it was over and I just felt an overwhelming so what?


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