The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell [Book]

The Other Typist by Suzanne RindellRose Baker seals men’s fates.

With a few strokes of the keys that sit before her, she can send a person away for life in prison. A typist in a New York City Police Department precinct on the lower east side, Rose is like a high priestess.  Confessions are her job. The criminals admit to their transgressions, and Rose records their crimes.   It is 1923, and while she may hear every detail about shootings, knifings, and murders, as soon as she leaves the interrogation room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for filing and making coffee.

It is a new era for women, and New York City is a confusing time for Rose. Gone are the Victorian standards of what is acceptable. All around her women bob their hair short like men, they smoke, they go to speakeasies.  But prudish Rose is stuck in the fading light of yesteryear, searching for the nurturing companionship that eluded her childhood and clinging to the Victorian ideal of sisterhood.

When glamorous Odalie, a new girl, joins the typing pool, despite her best intentions Rose falls under Odalie’s spell. As the two women navigate between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night, and their work at the station by day, Rose is drawn fully into Odalie’s high stakes world.  And her fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.



I am still sort of lost for words when trying to describe what I think of this novel.  Not entirely in the sense of admiration and a shock and awe feeling, but in a sense of disappointment, or even neutrality for that matter.  I guess I should assume that since I have mostly good things to say about this book, and nothing really bad to say, that I liked it.  And yes, I did quite enjoyed the storyline, the characters, and the delightful confusion that consistently evolved throughout the reading.  So, why am I so hesitant to state that I downright loved this book?  I shall explain.

The Other Typist is the first novel from Suzanne Rindell the world has known.  It is her freshman effort to say, which works along ironically enough she is doctoral student in American modernist literature at Rice University at the moment (or at least when she wrote this book).  And this may be one reason why I am hesitant to spill out praise and declare triumph for this up and coming novelist.  There isn’t a doubt in my mind that this woman has a brilliant gift for storytelling that I am very excited to follow along with over the coming years upon years of work she is obviously going to produce as she has had her first novel published by Penguin, no small feet to say the least.  But, is it the fact that I am so impressed by the idea of Rindell scoring a huge book deal such as this at such an early stage in her life/career that makes me feel as though I am utterly impressed with the novel?  I fear it is an honest thought to consider.

Another reason why I am hesitant to exclaim, “Read this fucking book now or I shall wish cancer upon you and all those you love” is based upon so much of the confusion that I had whilst reading the book itself.  I hadn’t considered this book to be a real “mystery” novel when I first found it, and definitely not in the beginnings of the reading.  It seemed so straight forward.  I wasn’t expecting so many things that eventually happened.  And as a not-so-avid reader of mystery novels, I was shocked.  So many things truly came out of nowhere.  Yet, they were so conveniently placed that is was undeniably brilliant in how Rindell worked things to her advantage.  By the time Rose started speaking about her dealings with the psychiatrist that was never mention in previous text, I was fumbling my thoughts like a madman.  So much so, that by the time all was truly revealed in the final pages, I never became fully comfortable with what the hell was actually happening to this main character who I had managed to disgust, love, disgust some more, and eventually fall in love with and hope for the best right around the time when hope was useless and of ill-ripute.  And in hindsight, I think this was actually pretty awesome, to put it mildly and sophomoric.  Anytime a writer can truly confuse the shit out of me at any given time, that should truly be a sign of true talent and obvious ability.  And there is no doubt in my mind that Suzanne Rindell will be one of the finest writers of this era.  Yet, I am still skeptical as to why I may think this.  There is still one more area that I must cover before I can truly convey my truest emotions.

Suzanne RindellI shall put it bluntly:  I felt like a masogenist asshole when I first started reading this book.  Please let me explain.  There was just something about the way that the main character, Rose, would describe her new friend and the book’s temptress Odalie that was so strangely sexual.  Not erotic mind you, just sexual.  And perhaps this was intentional.  And this is where the masagenist feelings came in to play.  I actually picked out a descriptor from the novel to share with my wife to read, and was very relieved when she felt the same way.  Of course, my spouse does not behold the ability to speak for all women and what their descriptors of “sexual” may be, but she is the woman I see day in and day out, and is the overall expert on womanly things as far as I am concerned.  But alas, it was there.  And I wonder if this was intentional by Rindell.  I don’t fancy myself the most perspective male on earth, but I would like to imagine that the implementations that I have drawn out here are true.  And if they were true, I commend Suzanne for the valiant effort and thought she has put in to creating such brilliant descriptors given from one woman to another in such a brilliantly sexual, yet lacking perversion in anyway, sort of style.  But, if I am wrong, I feel as though I may need to revisit the words, and maybe talk to Rindell personally to try and grasp what I was thinking.  And with that, I may need to figure out just what the hell is wrong with me.  But, in my defense, I do have the sneaking suspicion that this book, while not written entirely for a female audience, it is certainly justifiable to imagine that at least 60 percent of folks who read The Other Typist are going to be the proud owner’s of lady parts.

Even with these hesitations explain to the best of my ability, I do have to say that I liked this book a lot.  Beyond the fact that it is a brilliantly written book by an newcomer who happens to have a vagina, it’s just a damn good story that was so damn fun to read.  The elements of deception, false loyalty, and interpreted superiority that Rindell came up with where absolutely fascinating.  Seriously, even up to the Epilogue, I was wondering if I had just completed a book from the next Palahniuk when I thought that I might have read the next Fight Club that featured suffering females from the 1920’s before I finished the book altogether.  I definitely can say with full confidence that this is a book with a story line that will not let anyone down who loves beautiful storytelling, a brilliant array of emotional text, and even a slight bit of mystery.  I am definitely excited to read what Rindell has to offer on her second go around, which will hopefully deplete my issue with reading “mystery” books, even if they aren’t deemed to be in such a genre outside of my screwed up head.  I would definitely recommend this brilliant novel to anybody who lives in their right mind, and enjoys wonderful storytelling.

Note: 2014 is the first year for book reviews at Trainwreck’d Society.  We will be making a valiant effort to read and review at least 100 books.  This is review #5.  Be sure to stay in touch and be on the lookout for further reviews throughout 2014.  Be sure to let us know if we are falling behind.  For a complete list of book reviews, click HERE.  Enjoy!

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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