This Must Be the Place
is so well put together, so gentle and surprising, it makes me kick myself that I don't pick up debut novels more often. The tone is funny and generous youthful and hip without the trendy bite. Kate Racculia has put together an interesting mix of themes. Meditations on family, identity, romance, and creativity swirl around a compelling set of relationships, many of which come about by proximity rather than by design. The boarding house is a great setting in which to explore the characters, to work through struggles of love and rattle the skeletons in the closet. The Darby-Jones inhabitants make up a multi-generational ensemble, and I can imagine mothers and teenage daughters alike relating to the relationships played out here. Romance is dealt with, but with a light touch (no genre-bound steaminess to cringe...
Beyond the Book
Harryhausen, the cat at the center of This Must Be the Place
, is a living totem of his owner's patron saint, the real-life animator Ray Harryhausen. Ray Harryhausen was a pioneer in the field of animation, and the inspiration behind Racculia's Amy, who builds her life around the surreal art of making model monsters for the movies.
Racculia writes on her blog of discovering Harryhausen's work in the form of his last major film: "The Clash of the Titans
, Harryhausen's 1981 epic ode to Greek mythology and Harry Hamlin's magnificent perm, were on HBO approximately eight bajillion times in the mid-80s, and all eight bajillion of those times, I was there to watch it." Oh, the heady early days of cable. Racculia was not the only one to...