Zambreno creates a fully-rounded character
n my original review of Green Girl, I noted the numerous references Kate Zambreno makes, including: Virginia Woolf, Clarice Lispector, Joan Didion, Jean-Paul Sartre, Samuel Beckett, Jean-Luc Godard, and Mark Rothko. I’m not saying Zambreno doesn’t have a voice of her own voice; she does. Green Girl screams and stabs. It’s sordid and sincere. While critics might say “not much happens,” I see a profound use of negative space that supplements the existential crisis in which Zambreno’s protagonist, Ruth, an American expat in London who sells perfume, is absorbed. By adding all of the aphorisms, quotes, and nods to authors, playwrights, filmmakers and others, Zambreno creates a fully-rounded character who herself (like any author) can’t live outside of her influences. She hates her life in downtown London, she feels isolated and detached, and self-medicates. She’s neither hero, nor anti-hero, but she is still compelling, in the way Maria in Didion’s Play it As It Lays is compelling. You might hate Ruth for being young, nihilistic, contradictory, impulsive, and naïve, but those qualities are also what make her lovable.