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Big Swiss

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Read Big Swiss by Jen Beagin

Greta lives with her friend Sabine in an ancient Dutch farmhouse in Hudson, New York. The house, built in 1737, is unrenovated, uninsulated, and full of bees. Greta spends her days transcribing therapy sessions for a sex coach who calls himself Om. She becomes infatuated with his newest client, a repressed married woman she affectionately refers to as Big Swiss, since she’s tall, stoic, and originally from Switzerland. Greta is fascinated by Big Swiss’s refreshing attitude toward trauma. They both have dark histories, but Big Swiss chooses to remain unattached to her suffering while Greta continues to be tortured by her past.

One day, Greta recognizes Big Swiss’s voice at the dog park. In a panic, she introduces herself with a fake name and they quickly become enmeshed. Although Big Swiss is unaware of Greta’s true identity, Greta has never been more herself with anyone. Her attraction to Big Swiss overrides her guilt, and she’ll do anything to sustain the relationship…

Big Swiss is the unlikeable story of an unlikeable woman who commits identity fraud to sleep with another unlikeable woman, and then other bad things happen.

It’s good, but in a repulsive way. I found myself muttering « urgh » to myself every few pages, and yet going to the next page to know what was going on.

Greta considered her own behavior around red flags. Her habit was not to ignore them so much as to ingest them, a somewhat laborious mental production that involved placing them in a stockpot with butter, herbs, and mirepoix; cooking over low heat without browning; adding red meat, additional red flags, a jug of red wine; and voilà, four hours at a lazy simmer later, an extremely rich red-flag stew that she forked into her mouth every day like a fucking moron, sometimes for years on end.

Disgusting and fascinating, this book had the effect of a zit popping video.

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