The London Magazine | August/September 2021
to fully commit to his band, hunting down any and all opportunities for press coverage. Meanwhile, Iris’s best friend from Cambridge, Nance, stays to see out her PhD. All three characters are intimately connected across their personal and geographic contexts, sharing spit, sexual partners, Skype calls and Spotify playlists, in a fluid pool of procrastination, creative frustration and power play.
The book is littered with measures of harm, with smatterings of micro-aggressions and racial profiling towards Iris both before and after the U.S. election – ‘so far I have been mistaken for: Spanish, Portuguese, Egyptian, Jewish, Turkish, Cypriot. I don’t sound American and I don’t look English’ / ‘the waitress is ushering the woman out. As she passes, she hisses, Muslim bitch’ – to broader concerns of violence against women as the global north is shaped by the president’s perverse vision of masculinity. Nance and Iris’s relationship is, mostly, played out through long-distance emails on the subjects of blame and sexual consent. Articles on court trials and misconduct allegations become a means of subversive communication, containing layers of obstructionism and platonic critique:
05.10.17 12.35 From: firstname.lastname@example.org To: email@example.com
Have you read this? I never trusted the man. But seems like the sort of thing that would happen to you. A business breakfast…
The majority of Medland’s danger, however, lies in the ways the characters dissolve into one another: who they invite into their beds and what they invite into their bloodstream. The real action is in how these self-inflicted actions alter the characters’ pH balance – with chemical, physiological, and sometimes psychological changes occurring with each ingestion or physical collision. Plastic baggies and empty bottles glisten on the bedside tables of these twenty-something well-read champagne socialists, as they