Saturday, May 3

Lucy Crocker 2.0 – Caroline Preston

Artist and children’s librarian Lucy Crocker astonished her MIT computer programmer husband when her idea – an intricate, multi-level quest game – took the computer gaming world by storm and single-handedly saved their fledgling company. Lucy hasn’t changed since then, but the world around her has – her twin sons are more like their father every day, glued to monitors and vaguely dismissive of her and her computer illiteracy; all the old programmers have left, pushed aside by corporate mores and uncomfortable in the more restrictive, commercialised environment that was once laid back and quirky. Most of all her husband Ed’s changed – he’s distant, uncomfortable with her individuality, and he doesn’t understand how shaken Lucy’s been by a series of miscarriages. When she fails to deliver on the latest plan for Maiden’s Quest 2, Ed not only doesn’t defend her from the imperious mocking of the company management, he actually demotes her. But it takes discovering an email from Ed’s publicity director, about a Tantric massage and more, to push Lucy into action, and discovering her sons watching online porn tips her over the edge. She takes the computer potatoes to the canoeing camp she loved as a child, and retreats to the log cabin she’d loved to stay at with her father. And in the short weeks she’s there, Lucy exorcises old demons and discovers who she really is.
This is a deftly written exploration of the invisibility of wives and mothers, the discord between what we think is important and what actually is, and how the issues we don’t face continue to influence who we are and how we respond to the world. For Lucy, who has a number of unresolved issues (including her relationship with her mother, her abandonment of her father during their last summer together, and her first great love), these all come together in the space of a few weeks.
Though it deals with serious themes, I found Lucy Crocker 2.0 engaging, often light, and thoroughly enjoyable. I enjoyed the contrast between the languid, layered writing style and the relatively brisk pace, and the character development of Lucy and Ed. The twin dynamic was particularly well explored, and encompassed not only aspects of general sibling relationships but also some of the unique tensions that come from this particular bond.
There were a few coincidences that slightly stretched probability, and both Ed and Lucy have some slightly unrealistic naiveté when it comes to relationships, but all in all Lucy Crocker 2.0 is not bad at all. – Alex

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