Nell Zink gets high praise: she is a talent that has been discovered when already middle aged. It may be clear that I had to read her. Through chance my introduction to Nell Zink was The Wallcreeper. It started promising. In the very first sentence the main character Tiffany miscarries because of a car crash, her husband Stephen is more interested in the wallcreeper the car hits and which he manages to save, in order to end all the fuss over the miscarriage he has anal sex with Tiffany which she suffers sullenly. At that precise moment I thought ‘oh no, Tiffany resembles Lena Dunham and her Girls. That thought was confirmed unfortunately. Tiffany’s marriage is happy the one moment, unhappy the next. She is a self-proclaimed stay at home housewife who prefers having lovers over working for a living. Husband Stephen discovers nature preservation (and a beautiful preservationist) and has Tiffany once more following into his footsteps. Preservation takes over the leading part in the novel next. Reading the novel whilst in Paris the world was debating about the climate and the world’s future, I sometimes felt like I was reading the minutes of a Climate Conference meeting. Interesting though not what I want in a novel, especially one that is also trying to show its main character’s development. Tiffany, made enthusiastic by her husband and her lovers, personally destroys part of the Elbe bank, in this way creating a flood area. In reality a feat that made clear the importance of flood areas. How do I know? Because Nell Zink told me on Twitter, When I tweeted ‘I do not know as yet what to think of The Wallcreeper’ she answered: the novel is about preservation of nature and is combined with a lot of sex because people like a lot of sex. My next question, whether the part on nature preservation was meant to be ironic (the description of the characters does suggest a certain amount of irony) was followed by a very decisive ‘no’. My careful remark (it is not every day I share tweets with a real author) that Tiffany’s rapid change in the final pages might have been given some more space (the novel only counts a mere 100 pages, it isn’t as if it would become too hefty otherwise) she did not answer, she did put it in her favourites.
Many phrases make clear that Nell Zink writes well. She describes her characters and the world surrounding them beautifully. Unfortunately I am not a fan of Tiffany type women who go through life without taking decisions. I still have my doubts whether the descriptions of the environmentalists were not meant to be ironical, as I still have my doubts whether Nell Zink was not making fun of me (I hope so actually). I am afraid I have to read her second novel as well to determine whether she is worthy of the hype surrounding her. I still do not know what to think of The Wallcreeper, which in a way is not a good thing. Sorry Nell!