- The List
- 9 August 2007
This article is from 2007.
Creative writer isn’t looking back
Jennifer McCartney’s debut is both a joyfully idyllic and strangely dystopian novel. Afloat tells the story of Bell, a student from Minnesota who works as a waitress at an elite resort on Mackinac Island where her initial happiness turns into confused sorrow.
Decades later, and increasingly infirm, she is still obsessed with the events of that summer. McCartney combines a light, mature style, with an ability to sketch likeable, realistic characters. Her ‘very, very long history of doing crap jobs and being fired from them’ also came in handy. ‘You wash dishes and serve drinks and tell everyone that you’re going to be an actor or writer or accountant when you grow up. Then people smile at you, and you feel very small. Then you smile back at them and think, “I’ll show you”.’
She certainly has. After living and working in America and Britain, McCartney was awarded a distinction at Glasgow University’s creative writing course and snapped up by Penguin, with barely half a book written. Afloat has since become a bestseller in her native Canada and McCartney is forging ahead with a second novel. After the trials and tribulations of doing crap jobs, McCartney seems fully settled in her new career: ‘Tequila shots for everyone!’ (Hannah Adcock)
Recommended Reading: Afloat tackles both geographical and psychological isolation.
16 Aug (with Lesley McDowell), 7.30pm, £5 (£3).