'Longing,’ thinks Hazel West, the twenty-five-year-old protagonist of Susan Midalia’s first novel, ‘I could begin a story with longing.’ This is a book about various kinds of longing: the desire for intimacy, for human understanding, for self-possession and self-forgetting. Most of all, though, this is a book about language, about linguistic ‘shades of meaning’. Hazel is preoccupied with the fit of things with their referents. Ironically, she stumbles over her word choices in almost every encounter. ‘Words ha[ve] important shades of meaning,’ she says, ‘which [is] why you should never use a thesaurus.’
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