Review Lungfish by Meghan Gilliss

By: Meghan Gilliss
Release Date: September 13, 2022
Publisher: Catapult

Meghan Gilliss’s Lungfish is a literary fiction novel by a debut novelist. Our main character is known only as Tuck, and it is from her first-person point of view that the tale unfolds.

After the death of her grandmother, Tuck moves herself into the large, empty house left behind. The mansion is located on a small island off the coast, making her family’s new squatter lifestyle hard for others to notice and harder to do anything about. What this isolation doesn’t help with is her husband’s addiction, issues holding down jobs, and pervasive poverty, let alone raising their young daughter.

The entirety of this novel is bleak and gray. Everything from the choppy, gray sea to the cold to the dusty interior of her grandmother’s house reflects the same gray outlook on life Tuck holds and the bleak prospects for her family.

Tuck isn’t necessarily a character who fits into the category of book that can be colloquially categorized as “terrible people doing terrible things.” Nor is the story at all related to gothic literature, despite the setting. Instead, it’s simply a frustrating read.

Every decision Tuck makes is a wrong one. Our protagonist doesn’t come across as a good person stuck in a bad situation, doing her best to make ends meet, though that is surely what was intended. Instead, Tuck shows nothing short of baffling idiocy. Every single decision she makes is, objectively, blatantly incorrect, something that severely impacts her and her daughter’s quality of life. Each action, each new idea is a step in what is obviously the wrong direction.

This also lends a feeling of repetition to the tale, of a life filled with circles that are incapable of being broken through. While the motif is interesting and very worth exploring, Tuck is simply a difficult character to spend time with, and her husband is insufferable. Though a relatively short book, this makes the story feel interminable, and not in a good, interesting, or literary manner.

Insufferable nihilism and characters incapable of learning any decision-making skills make Lungfish feel interminable. While the stream-of-consciousness storytelling lends itself to such a story and life in such a remote location is quite fascinating, it is not enough to hold the story together.

About author

Kathleen Townsend

Kate writes things, reads things, and writes about things she reads. She’s had a few short stories published, and works as a freelance editor. Favorite genres include epic & high fantasy, science fiction, time travel stories, video game related tales, light novels, and manga.

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