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No Lease On Life (1999)

No Lease on Life (1999)

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3.71 of 5 Votes: 1
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0156008602 (ISBN13: 9780156008600)
mariner books

About book No Lease On Life (1999)

from publisherListened 5/29/12 - 6/15/124 Stars - Strongly Recommended to lovers of the cynical and insomniacialAudio Download (approx 5 hrs)Publisher: Iambik Audio / Cursor, Red LemonadeI have been Elizabeth. Not in NYC, but in the Pocono's. In a gated development, on a quarter acre of land, in a house on a street that is draped in trees. Most developments are gated to keep the riff-raff out. Mine, we joke, is gated to keep the riff-raff in.The outer walls of my home are extremely thin. I lie in bed at night, the night before a work-day, tossing and turning and stuffing my head beneath my pillow as my neighbor cranks out his Latin music. They are having a party. It's a Saturday night. I have to be up at 3:30am tomorrow morning for work.It's 10:30pm, now it's 11:00, now it's 11:30pm, and I can still hear the bass beating through the wall behind my headboard. Dum, Dum, DumDumDum, Dum, Dum, DumDumDum. I can't even close the window to lessen the noise because it's already shut. Not only can't I sleep because of the music, but I'm also sweating my ass off because the window is closed.I start tossing and turning across the bed. I kick at the sheets piled across the bottom of the bed. I stare up at the ceiling and swear I can see it pulsing to the beat of my asshole neighbor's music. Doesn't he know that we have a noise curfew? Of course he knows, he's lived here longer than I have. He doesn't care. He just wants to party. He thinks everyone else wants to hear his party. I bet he's one of those creeps who sits in a parking lot cranking his music with the car windows down, so everyone can hear the bass beat of his latin music when they walk in and out of the store.Why doesn't anyone else tell him to turn down the music? Maybe he's invited all of the other neighbor's to his party so they won't complain. They aren't trying to sleep like I am because they are all swigging down beers and dancing to the Dum, Dum, DumDumDum of his latin beats while I am sweating all over my bed sheets watching the clock count down to midnight. Watching the digital minutes creep closer and closer to 3:30am. Practically becoming the time at which my alarm will go off right before my eyes. I am watching every minute pass me by.I am restless. I am exhausted. I am envisioning myself throwing a robe over my wife-beater and boy shorts. Walking out my bedroom. Down the stairs, through the living room. Out the front door. Across my side yard into theirs. Up their front steps. Balling my hand into a fist. Pounding that fist against their door. Holding the fist tightly as they open the door. Watching that fist shoot out across the threshold. Punching them in their loud-music-playing face. Watching the blood blossom from their lip. or nose. I was never a good shot. It takes everything to not scream. I can feel my heart racing. I am tossing and turning and burying my head beneath the pillow. I can feel the scream sitting in my throat. Patient. Waiting to be released. And just when I open my mouth to let it out, the music stops. I hold my breath. I take the pillow off my head. I turn my ear towards the thin wall behind my bed. It's quiet. I let my breath out. Should I trust it? Is it over?I lay flat with my pillow behind my head. I look at the ceiling and my body begins to quiet. I breathe in again.Dum, Dum, Dum, DumDum, Dum Dum Dum, DumDum... That asshole was just switching CD's. It's 12:30pm. I have to be awake in three hours. I lean over and reach for the phone. I call security. I tell them I cannot sleep. I tell them I might go crazy and kill the neighbors unless they send someone to tell them to turn the music down. I hang up the phone. I put the pillow over my head again.And I toss and turn and sweat and swallow the scream that wants to come out.

What is better? Life in a hushed towerblock on the town’s outskirts where nothing but the clinking of champagne flues and the twittering of middlebrow bourgeois (hasn’t Mad Men gone downhill? OMG Twin Peaks is coming back!!!) from the flats below can be heard; or life in a streetside tenement with the thrum and rumble of the traffic (HONK! move your stinking Renault!) and pedestrians; or life in a Ballardian high-rise where filth and trash are dumped in the corridors, stoners practice their music at full volume nightly, insane couples yell at each other until the wee hours, and the relentless howl of street violence and auto-rage rages in your cranium all day? The answer, of course, is the second. Tillman’s novel wryly explores a dystopian New York tenement setting with her trademark descriptive acuity, loveably confused characters, and playful formal antics, all mixed in with inappropriate jokes like: What was Kurt Kobain’s final thought? Hole’s gonna be big. This is splendid bookage.

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Elizabeth is a woman tortured by the elements surrounding her apartment: The morons breaking car windows outside, the super who hordes trash instead of cleaning it up, the junkies and hookers polluting the hallway. As Tillman paints a picture of New York City, circa the OJ trial/Knicks vs. Rockets finals, something odd happens to the reader: He/she becomes engulfed in Elizabeth's life, her struggles, even her occurring neurotic obsession to murder the kids making noise outside her window. Normally, I would find myself struggling to get through a book about the problems in a NYC apartment complex, but Tillman attacks the subject with beautiful prose, interesting choruses and deepened characterizations.

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