“Sherry & Narcotics doesn’t tarry, it doesn’t linger, and it doesn’t savor moments. It is pared down, lean and taut—but sometimes you just long for a little fat.”
Sherry & Narcotics is a title that foreshadows one of the major themes in this novel: addiction. The novel also explores modern life and modern relationships through the use of email and text messaging as two of the preferred methods of communication between characters.
Because Nina-Marie Gardner chooses to have her characters communicate this way (predominantly, although not exclusively), it’s hard to imagine this novel being written before email and text messaging became so all-consuming in our society, but it isn’t hard to understand that, given these forms, communication in Sherry & Narcotics is always at breakneck speed. (Perhaps this is a major reason why the characters don’t seem to communicate very well.)
The story here is a familiar one: Girl meets boy. Girl and boy get involved. Girl and boy are not at all good for each other. The girl, in this case, is Mary, an American graduate student who has become a “consultant” because everyone has become a consultant, and she doesn’t know what else to become. The boy is Jake, a well-known poet. The pair meet via—you guessed it—email (specifically, they are MySpace friends).
When they leave the realm of MySpace it is quickly clear that Mary and Jake are not good for each other (something of an understatement). Their relationship is like a runaway train, out of control and careening toward a terrible end.
Writing characters that are believable, if believably self-destructive, is one of Ms. Gardiner’s strengths. Mary is a particularly good example of a character who elicits frustration because she is smart and has a lot going for her, but yet she sets herself up for pain and failure, again and again.
Mary and Jake don’t have much chance of succeeding in this, or perhaps any relationship they may have, but succeeding in relationships may not be the goal for characters such as these. Perhaps getting into and then escaping from these relationships is more to the point.
Although this is a well-written book by a talented writer, there is something very empty about Sherry & Narcotics and the relationships portrayed. Author Gardiner skillfully describes the exciting “all fun, all the time” lifestyle, but the staccato nature of the lifestyle, mimicked by the writing, becomes mind numbing after a while.
Sherry & Narcotics doesn’t tarry, it doesn’t linger, and it doesn’t savor moments. It is pared down, lean and taut—but sometimes you just long for a little fat.