Entangled Objects by Susanne Paola Antonetta is a unique novel exploring the lives of three women.
These women are all totally different in terms of lifestyle, money etc but they are also remarkably similar in their experiences. Their lives all intersect at various points.
There was the theme of fake compared with being real. Sometimes people show the world a fake version of themselves – hiding under clothes and make up. Even the reality television show shoots so called ‘real’ scenes several times! At the viewing of a deceased relative, the family saw a different version of their loved one. Both life and death seem to present images to the world rather than reality.
A character is lost inside themselves with the cruel disease that is Alzheimer’s.
Entangled Objects was a unique read. I did not always understand it at times but I recognise that it is well written and the fault is mine. Susanna Paola Antonetta has been likened in style to Virginia Woolf. I studied her works as part of my degree many years ago – I never understood her either!
A word of warning: there are scenes with far too much ‘bedroom’ detail for my liking. I skipped over these.
I received this book for free. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.
Susanne Paola Antonetta’s Make Me a Mother, ranked a Top Ten Book of the Year by Image Journal, was published by W.W. Norton. She is also author of Curious Atoms: A History with Physics, Body Toxic: An Environmental Memoir, A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World, the novella Stolen Moments, and four books of poetry. Awards for her poetry and prose include a New York Times Notable Book, an American Book Award, a Library Journal Best Science Book of the Year, a Lenore Marshall Award finalist, a Pushcart prize, and others. Her essays and poems have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Orion, the New Republic, and many anthologies. She lives in Bellingham, Washington and
is the Editor-in-Chief of the Bellingham Review.
Entangled Objects: A Novel in Quantum Parts by Susanne Paola Antonetta
166 pp. | August 17, 2020
Hardcover (9781725252035) $30 | Paperback (9781725252028) $18
Praise For Susanna Paola Antonetta
“Susanne Antonetta’s considerable achievement in Body Toxic is to devise a literary voice for the people who live in such places, for the bodies that have been ‘charged and reformed by the landscape’ of pollution. By the end of this dark, disturbing book, you realize Antonetta has posed a challenge to our prevailing notions of science and journalism and even literary narrative.” —Michael Pollan, the New York Times
“Susanne Antonetta laces all these demons together with words that sing a terrible and beautiful song.” —Charles Bowden
“Intensely intimate and starkly contemporary, it is a story of bravery and resignation, of great hope and great loss. This beautifully composed book presents American families in the midst of the wreckage of the American dream. —Publishers Weekly, starred review
A MIND APART
“We are invited most deeply, of course, into Antonetta’s own mind, which is relentlessly inquisitive, dangerously intense, lyrical in its self-talk.” —Pam Houston, O: The Oprah Magazine.
MAKE ME A MOTHER
“Antonetta’s generous, humbling take on adoption adds another layer to today’s vastly ‘changing landscape of family,’ where couples seeking adoption don’t necessarily have infertility issues and ethnic make-up tends more toward the richly diverse.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
Questions And Answers With Susanna Paola Antonetta
A novel that incorporates physics as a plot point is rather rare. How does this science function in the novel?
First of all, the book is anything but a dry tome on physics. The science explanations are actually fairly brief. The characters are fresh and lively, facing affairs, religious crises, and the process of self-creation, as in the case of my reality television star, Cate Crawley.
The novel works on the premise that my three point-of-view characters—Fan, Cate, and Filomena—are bound together the way entangled particles are bound. Entangled particles in physics exist separately, but in a state where a change in one instantly causes a change in the other or others. Einstein called this “spooky action at a distance.”
This entanglement reflects the situation of my characters; they are interconnected even before they meet. My characters also subtly exist in a state of superposition, a state of being for quantum particles that means they don’t exist in a definite place or a definite time. Timelines in the book meld together.
Fan teaches herself to understand physics as we go. In many ways physics holds her marriage together, and I think this structure works in favor of the reader. We learn as she learns.
An adjunct professor, a maid, and a reality television star are obviously very different. What are their connections?
Their lives are very different, and I loved exploring that. Fan faces a crisis in her marriage, the strange realities of her husband’s work as a cloner, and her mother’s death. Filomena tries to create an identity that transcends her identity as a maid, and she also develops a growing fascination with the prosperity gospel. Cate tries to understand the connection between her “real” self and her manufactured image. She also has to face the image she’s created for her self- destructive husband. The glue here is the question of what constitutes an authentic life, what can be said to be real. What is the most authentic way to live in the world? Each woman tries to answer this question for herself.
How did these complex relationships evolve?
I first wrote a novella with Fan and two other point-of-view characters who I ultimately dropped for the novel. In the novel I realized, in drafting, that an entanglement in the physics sense existed between my characters. Their narratives overlap and mirror one another’s, though they are very different. Entanglement is a wonderful mystery. My characters live in that wonderful mystery.
What are some of the characters’ other obsessions?
Cloning, her husband’s field, becomes a huge existential issue for Fan. And the fact that she feels most herself in a country where she doesn’t speak the language. Also, for her, Shakespeare.
Filomena strives for connection and uses a stranger’s cell phone to create connections with strangers using text messaging. She too tries to change herself, dressing up as a guest at the hotel where she works. She realizes she needs to embrace the truth of her sexuality. Cate visits a
medium and wonders what to do in those moments when her controlled life unravels. And how she wants, at times, to free herself from it.
Like physics, reality television is an unexpected thread in the novel.
I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of an orchestrated reality, which reality television is.
Cate is not a shallow character. I came, through writing the book, to admire her deeply. We all live in orchestrated realities, to some extent.
You consider this book metaphysical, deeply spiritual. Yet it does not fit the parameters of “Christian novel” as the term is often used. How do these themes resonate throughout this work?
The term I use is a “stealth” book of faith. I wanted that theme to be essential yet nuanced in the book. I’ve always conceived of this novel as a pilgrim’s progress, with my characters making their way through various places that lead them to the moments of insight at the end. I intended
for these moments not to be plot-driven in the sense that they meet through some great upheaval or change in their lives. The convergence place for the three women is the hotel, the Mariposa.
Each character comes to terms with a recognition of sacrifice, of connection and larger truths, of unknowability.