Monday, July 02, 2018

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor



Even having held this book, I find the cover image an enigma.  Something veiled, perhaps a profile, occupies the polka dot grid.  The title, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, supplies all the bombast and shrapnel.  This book can be very loud, explicit, but the volume is warranted considering both the Californian locales and the rock concert set pieces.  It’s all super 90’s action: Paul scours the CD racks, makes mixtapes, and publishes small press magazines.  Of course, he (am I supposed to introduce the s/he or zee now?) also shapeshifts. 

            Shapeshifters look so much better on TV and the silver screen.  But there remains ever something alluring about reading a transformation.  Paul assumes many different forms, some practical and others ridiculous.  I appreciate nevertheless the depth of her/his characterization.  While becoming someone else can be an exceptionally thrilling idea, there always remains a little something-something everyone wants to remain.  I also like the repeated mythological asides, which attempt to explain and/or imagine where Paul’s power originated.  Not sure really what books this one resembles.  One would think it might be a shapeshifter too.  Girl Meets Boy and Middlesex could almost serve as doppelgängers, but they lack, in the one hand, the historical dimension and, in the other, the punky spirit Paul(ie) flaunts.   

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