Danika reviews Crocodile Soup by Julia Darling

The blurbs and back cover of this book, I think, completely misrepresent its tone. The back cover seems to imply zany fun times, but though Crocodile Soup is written with humor, I wouldn’t really call it chipper.

The main character, Gert, is a lesbian and the present time plot of the story is mostly about her trying to woo a coworker, but this definitely takes a backseat to Gert’s childhood and family. Crocodile Soup is told in very short chapters, usually only a couple pages each, switching between the present and flashbacks leading you through her childhood. Gert and her twin brother were mostly left to their own devices as kids, leading them to both spiral out wildly in different directions. When present-day Gert starts getting letters from her mother, she has to deal with old memories.

Crocodile Soup deals with a lot of fabulism. Some small, magic-ish things happen, and it’s unclear whether they actually happened, or if they’re metaphors, or if–as suggested by her brother at some point–Gert just has a tendency to exaggerate.

Gert, both in her childhood and in her present life, has difficulty finding direction or purpose. It gives the book a bit of a melancholy feel, and I wasn’t sure whether or not I was liking it most of the way through. By the end, though, I think I did find it worth keeping. Crocodile Soup is definitely intriguing; it was one of those books that when I finished it, I immediately wanted to re-read it from the perspective of what I then knew.

Have you read Crocodile Soup? What did you think of it? Have you ever read a book that was completely different in tone than what you were expecting?

6 Replies to “Danika reviews Crocodile Soup by Julia Darling”

  1. LindsayDianne

    Very very interesting.
    I had never given much thought to lesbian lit as a genre, but you’ve certainly spiked my interest. I love reading, and thus… I’m bookmarking you. 🙂

    1. Danika the Lesbrarian Post author

      I’m glad! I mean, as a lesbian I like to at least occasionally read books where I can relate to the relationship, but I think even if I weren’t, it’s always valuable to see from other perspectives. : )

  2. LindsayDianne

    It is! And I’ve read a LOT of different perspectives, but never any lesbian ones. What an awesome resource you’ve built. Do you suggest anything particularly awesome in terms of fiction?
    I like things that are thought provoking, more than fluffy. But not too dry. Ha! Picky picky picky.

    1. Danika the Lesbrarian Post author

      My absolute favorites are Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I like Tipping the Velvet best, but Fingersmith has an incredible plot, so I’d recommend starting there. Anything by Jeanette Winterson is a good bet, the classic being Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. Rubyfruit Jungle by Rita Mae Brown is another great classic lesbian book. I do have some more general recommendations here. It sounds like you have similar taste to me, so hopefully you’ll find something!

  3. Sadako

    I like magical realism…sometimes. I feel people like Francesca Lia Block for ex can be fun but it can get a little *too* over the top with the “I’m quirky and see faeries and spell faerie with an ae!” But anyway not to get off topic this one sounds like a fun read.

    So do the other ones you mention–Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith. LOVE the titles, too, btw.

    1. Danika the Lesbrarian Post author

      Yeah, magical realism is a tricky line before you just get ridiculous, but I like it when it’s done well.

      They are amazing, definitely my favourites books I’ve ever read. You should really give them a try. : )