(Posted by Evan)
I have been thinking a lot about what kind of relationships exist between the characters. While John simply seems interested in Alice's money and her womb, and Lucy can be said to have 'romantic' feelings for Alice (there seems a lot more to unpack there but it is simple enough to say that at least). The one I wonder about most is Alice's feelings towards Lucy.
Back in Bennington, Alice tells Lucy to get out of her life and disappear. She leaves her home for a foreign land and does not try to contact Lucy. Lucy has to dig up where she is and goes to Morocco uninvited. When Lucy surprises Alice, Alice is nervous and asks Lucy why she is there. She asks John what kind of day-trips Lucy can take, seemingly wanting to get rid of her.
And yet, there are times when Alice describes Lucy' presence as "emboldening" and describes Lucy as "her knight in shining armor." On the trip to Chefchaouen, I think we can see this effect on Alice. She asks the driver to stop so she can take photographs both asserting some control over her situation and seeking her own personal enjoyment. She goes off away from Lucy leaving Lucy to wait for her or go find her. Alice's photography seems to be the primary symbol of her individuality and independence - it is what Tom notice's in her college dorm room - what weens her away from Lucy in college - something that John doesn't know anything about. It's her's. Further, she's not afraid to eat foreign food and make a mess of herself, to try on men' clothes (Lucy's trousers), she's ok with exploring different sides of herself. I think the fact that Lucy is always bold, the idea of Lucy in Alice's mind, helps to encourage her to be more determinative herself.
Obligatory picture of Chefchaouen. There is also an interesting analogy between Lucy and Alice - Tangier and Chefchaouen. In Ch. 7, Alice contrasts they way she does not belong in Tangier, while Lucy fits right in.
"I could feel it, simmering around me, those things that I did not understand, the places and people that remained a mystery to me, that refused to yield no matter how often I puzzled over them. Tangier and Lucy were the same, I thought. Both unsolvable riddles that refused to leave me in peace."
Likewise, Lucy reflects on Chefchaouen:
"There was a calm to the city that was immediately at odds with Tangier... There was an eerie quiet after all the noise and bustle of Tangier. I wasn't sure I entirely enjoyed it... It was light, where Tangier was dark. It was soothing, where Tangier refused to let anyone within is grasp exhale or take a breath. I did not belong here, I felt instinctively, but I could see that Alice did."
They seem pretty incompatible in this regard, but there is a bit of a complimentary opposite thing too. Alice is hot tea, Lucy is cool bricks.
But is Lucy any better for Alice than John? When John and Lucy talk, John says Alice and he are "Symbiotic." I think I might agree. While he doesn't seem to care for her personally, Alice had accepted that she was not going to Morocco with the man of her dreams but instead saw it as a chance to escape her past. Perhaps the known nature of John and Alice's relationship makes it more bearable than that of Lucy and Alice. Alice mainly just seems to not like living in Tangier. She doesn't seem bothered by John's infidelity.
Lucy, on the other hand, sees Alice as needing her in a similar sense as John does. Lucy thinks that she has to save Alice from John's control but just seems to want to control Alice her self. She continues to think she knows better what is for Alice, while completely ignoring the many times Alice has told her to get out of her life.
One last point: What role does the impending Moroccan independence play? Outside of the kif bar/jazz club. Lucy hears the Ululation as celebration and delighting, "...as if the city knew - things were happening, finally, after all this waiting." The birth of a new world and a new life. Alice, meanwhile says "It sounds like someone is dying." The end of an era - the end of occupation?
(Posted by Evan)
(Posted by TheScythe)
Happy Saturday Book Clubbers all around the world! Fun stuff below the fold. Inspired by Part 1 of Tangerine but having read is optional, with the exception that you won't know how cool the paraffin button really is unless you've made it to Chapter 7.
This is an 'Open Thread' meaning there is no such thing as an off-topic comment.
Hello, Tangerinos! I've got two things I'd like to open up for discussion:
Thing #1: Maybe it is because Rebecca is fresh in my memory, but I am noticing a lot of similarities between the two books. First of all, the prologue of Tangerine is reminiscent of the prologue of Rebecca. In both the narrator is recalling a place they no longer live that is ruined for them, and described with imagery of death and decay. Describing Tangiers: "For underneath the smell, underneath the comfort, there are flies buzzing, cockroaches stirring, starving cats gazing meanly, watching your every movement." Alice's personality mirrors that of the unnamed protagonist in Rebecca; they are both extremely self-conscious and believe they don't fit in with those around them. They are simultaneously jealous and resentful of the more outgoing, confident people that surround them. In both stories the main character rushes into a marriage that takes them far away from their home. Alice's husband John seems to be a combination of Mr. De Winter and Jack (Rebecca's alcoholic cousin/lover).
Thing #2: Now for my hot take: Lucy doesn't exist! More precisely, I think this is a Fight Club-type situation where Lucy is the manifestation of everything Alice wishes she could be. Some evidence: both Alice and Lucy use each others names to introduce themselves at different points. Also, when Alice is recovering from the car crash and asks about Lucy, her aunt Maude just says "You're confused, Alice, dear." (p.139). She had told Lucy "I want you to disappear and never come back" (p.135) before jumping in the car with Tom (I think Alice cut the brakes herself, btw). When she returns to her dorm room, it is completely empty; if Lucy did exist, knowing her personality and affinity with Alice, I don't think she would have left so easily...
That's all I've got for now, let me know what you think!
Posted by Madison
About the author of Tangerine: Christine Mangan was born in Detroit, raised in Long Island, New York, and North Carolina, and currently lives in Brooklyn. She received her PHD in English from University College Dublin, where her thesis focused on 18th century Gothic literature. Tangerine is her first novel. (From the publisher.)
What are the effects of beginning a novel with an unreliable narrator?
The chapters alternate between Alice and Lucy. What effect does this have? Could it have been told from one perspective and achieved the same feeling? I read one review that suggested it could have been told from Lucy's point of view alone, but I think the way it's written makes the book that much more disorienting. Alice and Lucy are clearly opposites, but their voices are sometimes written in a way that makes you double-check the name at the beginning of the chapter. The blending of this was intentional, I think, to make the reader question the reliability of both narrators. One of the main questions is whether Alice’s paranoia is real or not. I have a feeling doctors of the time would call her hysterical.
Tangier becomes a character in the novel. Youssef tells Lucy, “If you are looking for a place that makes sense, I feel I must provide this warning—you will be disappointed.” In what way does Tangier enhance the plot? In many ways this reminds me of A Passage to India or Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky, both travel narratives that explore Other with a capital O by comparing Western and Eastern societies.
The story is set in the 1950's at a time when it wasn’t acceptable for same-sex relationships or for women to exist much outside the kitchen. Based on era alone, the book begins with feelings of claustrophobia and shame. On top of this, we're transported to Tangier, a place even less progressive than the United States, during a time the French still ruled Morocco. Alice is terrified of Tangier and has panic attacks every time she thinks about leaving the house. Meanwhile, Lucy goes out on her own and explores the city (wearing trousers instead of a dress)! Both are outsiders but one of them embraces this, a nod to Youssef's distinction between tourist and traveler.