A review of
by Lindsay Ahl
Lindsay Ahl, in her self-reflexive and at times hallucinatory novel Desire, tells the story of two Elenas, a mother and a daughter, whose pasts straddle the tricky border dividing memory from imagination. Daughter Elena grapples with the childhood memory of mother Elena’s murder in Kenya, an event that she may or may not have witnessed, an event that may or may not have even happened.
Shifting between present-day New Mexico (where grown daughter Elena works as an anthropologist) and flashbacks to seventies Africa, Desire is a ghost story where even the ghosts are haunted. Elena’s memories of the narcissistic and reckless Elena Monroe (referred to herein with surname intact) show a mother who loved her daughter as a type of hateful obligation. When Elena was nine, her mother looked at her palm and said, “You’ll never be loved, see there? You have no heart line. No heart line means that you’ll be just like me.”
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