Adrienne Eisen, Making Scenes (Alt-X, 2001/2002?)
[originally posted 21Jan2002]
Riddle me this, Batman. The copyright page of Adrienne Eisen’s debut novel Making Scenes puts the copyright date as April 2001. Amazon has it listed as available. Yet a handwritten note I got with the book says it will be published April 1, 2002. An out-of-date April fools’ joke, or an inaccuracy at the printer’s? You be the judge—assuming, that is, you end up reading the book.
Making Scenes is the story of (actually, four stories about, but we’ll not split that hair here) the Everywoman of the 1990s as given us by Eisen. She’s bulimic but handling it, unsure about her various relationships, trying to find a steady job in a shaky market, and dreams of being a professional beach volleyball player. Unlike most, she has an actual shot at it, and spends the majority of her time outside her various stress-causing activities either playing volleyball, getting ready to play volleyball, or coming home from playing volleyball. And while that may sound monotonous, it’s anything but. No one writes novels about professional beach volleyball. And what we get of it here, especially filtered through the eyes of our protagonist (and her relationship crises—after all, volleyball is a team sport), is interesting enough to have been a novel in itself.
It should have been, and I guess I have to split that hair. The novel lacks consistency, and I get the idea that this is because it’s actually four separate stories that take place at various times in the protagonist’s life as she attempts to reach her dream. Marketed as a related collection of short stories, I might have been more prepared for the jarring between sections. Also, it often seems like the material on what’s happening outside the volleyball obsession is somewhat extraneous. The bulimia aspect is obviously tied in closely, but the outside-volleyball relationships aren’t. Perhaps I’m looking at it from the wrong POV, as the book has earned high praise from erotica aficionados, but I got the feeling Eisen was focusing more on the volleyball and that the erotica aspect was less important. The two didn’t quite mesh for me. ** ½