Monday, August 21, 2017

Zoe Taylor's Joyride

Zoë Taylor's Joyride is a wonderfully brushy, scribbly and visceral story about a young woman at a party who makes a bold decision. Taylor does the absolute minimum to establish characters and motive, and she doesn't have to. After beginning the story with the odd image of a dressed-up woman sitting in the middle of a forest, it shifts to a lavish party, a woman getting ready for that party, and a sportscar speeding along to get to the party at the mansion. There are relationships that are left vague; there's an implication that one of the women is the daughter (or perhaps the sister) of the hostess, as the hostess even says to a friend, "That's her disguise." Nonetheless, the action at the party continues: people laughing, drinking and otherwise enjoying the moment. That is, until the first woman leaves the party and steals the sportscar that we saw in the first scene.

The hostess exclaims "She hot-wired the car!", and it's telling that no one at the party looks very surprised. What follows is an exhilarating, visceral series of full splash pages worth of speed lines and a blurred car. She eventually loses control and wraps the car around a tree in the forest. She walks away from the crashed car, which soon catches on fire and explodes. The other woman has followed her and is looking for her in the forest with someone who is presumably her boyfriend, but her flashlight-aided search fails.

That's more or less the whole story, but the level of ambiguity in the story is maddening. The story had a car crash as its climactic event, but the lack of context deliberately robbed the reader of drawing any conclusions from it other than raptly absorbing the images as images. We don't know why the first woman stole the car or her relationship to the other woman and her boyfriend. We don't know if this is the climax of a lifetime of erratic behavior or just another weekend. We don't know what will become of the woman after the car crash. Once again, Taylor forces the reader to simply experience the images and what is certain. There was a woman. She stole a car. She drove it fast, crashed it, and walked away. Any other conclusions to be drawn from the story are mere suppositions. One can make some connections regarding wealth, family and dysfunction, but that's all connotation--and mostly guesswork at that. If Taylor had felt like leaving more clues or leading the reader in a different direction, she would have. Instead, she focuses strictly on the action and takes the reader along with her, thanks to her expressive, immediate style and the cheap newsprint that soaks up those thick, black lines.

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