Title: Self Storage: A Novel
Author: Gayle Brandeis
Release Date: January 23, 2007
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3 out of 5
Flan Parker is a little bit addicted to self storage auctions. When a person renting storage space becomes delinquent in their payments, the contents of the storage unit are auctioned off to the highest bidder. Flan loves attending these auctions and bidding on the storage units; it helps her escape from the reality that her husband is more interested in watching soap operas than finishing his dissertation. When Flan begins to take notice of her Afghani neighbors, the reality of the post-9/11 world sets in, and Flan is thrown for a loop.
Self Storage is one of those novels that caught my eye a long time ago, and that I checked out from the library multiple times. Now that I’ve finally sat down to read it, I feel it is a well-written novel, but has some major flaws that prevented it from being great.
Flan was definitely an interesting character. She was passionate, which I loved, but she was also very sexual. Multiple times, she describes wanting to kiss random men (and women), and she finds some very strange things to be erotic. This aspect of Flan prevented me from really being able to identify with her.
Brandeis captured the realities of living in a post-9/11 world extremely well in Self Storage. Because Flan’s neighbors are Afghani, the neighborhood views them with suspicion. Even the most innocent acts are interpreted in the harshest light, and people believe them to be terrorists just because of their ethnicity. Brandeis does a great job with this social commentary, although the events towards the end of the book spiral out of control to a point where the story loses its believability.
Though Self Storage was well-written, I can’t say I truly enjoyed reading it. I couldn’t identify with Flan and her husband Shae drove me crazy through the course of the book. I did appreciate Brandeis’ social commentary, but it may have been a little too starkly drawn for my taste. I would definitely be willing to pick up Brandeis’ other works, but this one was just not for me.