Saturday, August 11, 2012


Spin, by Catherine McKenzie.

I turn on the light that sits on the night table between our beds.

She blinks slowly. "Sorry. I was disoriented."

"It's OK. I think you were having a nightmare."

"I wish. I was in a K-hole."

"A what?"

"I was dreaming I was using."

Oh. So "K" must be a drug. But what drug? Vitamin K? Special K cereal with cocaine sprinkled on it?

I'm going to be unmasked soon, soon soon.

I had reviewed Catherine McKenzie's second novel, Arranged, back in June, and I enjoyed it a lot, so I wanted to read Spin, her debut novel, as well. While Arranged was about what you would think it's about - arranged marriages, in a way - Spin is about a girl who gets an interview at what would be her dream job, at a music magazine called The Line, but then completely blows it. Kate likes to drink and party, but no more than her friends, usually, and she shows up hungover and actually still drunk to her interview at The Line. She's 30 years old but half of her friends think she's a 25-year-old grad student, and she tells them she's just trying to make some extra money which is why she's looking for work. Shortly after her disastrous interview, however, a gossip magazine that's an affiliate of The Line calls her up and asks her if she wants to complete an assignment for them: follow Amber Sheppard, star of the TV show The Girl Next Door, into rehab and get any dirt she can on her.

They figure Kate will fit right in since she's a borderline alcoholic herself, and Kate agrees to take the assignment, with the promise that she will get the job at The Line if she does well. What Kate doesn't anticipate, though, is becoming friends with Amber, and when Kate finally gets to leave rehab she must decide if she can still publish the expose on Amber or if she values their friendship more.

Like Arranged, Spin has memorable characters and a strong first-person narrative. Kate nicknames all of the people she meets in rehab - there's TGND (Amber), The Banker, The Director, etcetera, as the rehab center hosts a slew of high-profile people - and it's funny to see them from her perspective. Even though Amber can be a bit of a drama queen sometimes, Kate didn't realize that she is more of a "real person" than the world thinks she is, and that makes her decision whether to publish or not publish the article on Amber harder than she thought it would be.

Kate also meets Henry in rehab, though he's not actually IN rehab - he's there to accompany Connor Parks, Amber's ex and YGB (Young James Bond), as Kate nicknames him, because he's an actor as well. She starts to fall for Henry but knows that he would be appalled if she told him her secret about the reason she's actually in rehab, and when she gets out of rehab she has to decide if she should pursue their relationship.

3.5 stars out of 5.


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