Dirty Work

Weston, Gabriel. Dirty Work: a Novel. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2014.

Reason read: I was supposed to review this in July 2014 for the Early Review Program of LibraryThing. I never received a copy so I decided to borrow it from a local library and review it all the same.

Disclaimer: Dirty Work was first published in August 2014 so this is not exactly an “early” review.

When we first meet Nancy Mullion, she is in the middle of a botched abortion. Her patient is bleeding out and she can’t stop it. Subsequently, a four month medical tribunal ensues; an inquisition where Nancy’s actions are scrutinized to determine if she is competent to continue practicing medicine. Throughout her trial, Nancy flashes back to her childhood and the traumas she suffered as a young girl in England. The writing is fuzzy in the flashbacks. Weston purposefully keeps the abuse vague. Here’s what we know about the first incident; we know Mullion was a very small child; too small to sit properly on a bar stool or hold a rubber ball in her tiny grasp. Weston emphasizes this point further to say Mullion’s hand is so small it cannot encircle the bartender’s penis. What the what?!? All in all, I thought Dirty Work was very disjointed in plot and character development. Weston is vague beyond being clever but one thing is clear – abortion is a stronger character than Doctor Nancy Mullion.

People are calling Dirty Work “original” and “courageous”. Original? No. Courageous? Maybe, because it discusses abortions in such detail and is practically a political commentary on the subject.

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