Catch the Rabbit — Restless Books

I feel like every good thing I have to say about this book comes with a caveat.

First, Lana Bastašić can write. Her similes are just impeccable; they pack a punch–this is a good thing, but also a bad thing, because I feel like Bastašić’s descriptive writing is almost exclusively reliant on similes. If Bastašić wants to describe something, it’s always “X is like Y” or “X does Y as though it’s Z.” And that’s pretty much the extent of what you get in terms of formal variety in this book. As much as I loved the similes, they started to get old very quickly, especially when you start to notice three or four consecutive ones on the same page.

Second, I thought the character exploration in Catch the Rabbit was fascinating. Being inside Sara’s head was unsettling, especially as she’s the kind of character who fixates on everything where her friend Lejla is concerned. And “friend” is a very fraught term in this novel; Sara and Lejla’s relationship is far from clear-cut or uncomplicated. And to a certain extent, I liked that; I liked that you couldn’t ever really put a finger on what was happening between Sara and Lejla, on the kind of friendship that they had, or indeed if what existed between them could even be called a “friendship.”

What I didn’t like, though–and here’s that caveat–is that all this character exploration skewed a bit melodramatic. At a certain point, every moment in Catch the Rabbit started to feel like a Moment, and it grated on me. I don’t mind symbolism–what is fiction about if not things symbolizing other things–but when everything in your novel is Symbolic–when every event becomes imbued with monumental importance–the narrative ends up feeling incredibly bloated and frankly, exhausting. I love symbolic moments and all, and they suit given that Sara, the narrator, is writing this story down retrospectively, and so is liable to embellish and give meaning to events that might not have otherwise meant a lot, but Bastašić just took it too far. It got to a point where I couldn’t parse out what these characters were actually feeling beyond the overwhelming cloud of Literary Significance that crowded every single moment.

So all in all, a mixed bag.

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  1. I see this is a translation…I wonder if those constant similes work better in the original language? Some languages lean more toward those types of similes than English does though I have no idea if that’s the case here. It’s too bad when a writer is very good but doesn’t know how much to lean into a style.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yeah the translation is always a possibility when it comes to clunky writing, though i dont know if thats the case here since the author translated the novel herself 🤷‍♀️

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a copy of this (New Directions, the publisher, has great book sales!) but haven’t yet tried to read it. I was drawn to the premise of a road trip/problematical friendship between women but I can see those similes would get on my nerves.


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