Into the Valley: Book summary and reviews of Into the Valley by Ruth Galm

Into the Valley

by Ruth Galm

Into the Valley by Ruth Galm
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2015
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

Into the Valley opens on the day in July 1967 when B. decides to pass her first counterfeit check and flee San Francisco for the Central Valley. Caught between generations and unmarried at 30, B. doesn't understand the new counterculture youths. She likes the dresses and kid gloves of her mother's generation, but doesn't fit into that world either.

B. is beset by a disintegrative anxiety she calls "the carsickness," and the only relief comes in handling illicit checks and driving endlessly through the valley. As she travels the bare, anonymous landscape, meeting an array of other characters - an alcoholic professor, a bohemian teenage girl, a criminal admirer - B.'s flight becomes that of a woman unraveling, a person lost between who she is and who she cannot yet be.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Galm's debut is precisely written and casually paced. A standout debut." - Publishers Weekly

"Galm's writing is rich and evokes the desolation of the Central Valley and B.'s mental state. Readers [will] appreciate Galm's fantastic writing and the new view of an overexposed slice of American history." - Kirkus

"In the luxury vehicle of her hypnotically evocative prose, Ruth Galm takes us on the journey of the mysterious B., suffering from a mysterious malaise which can only be relieved by forging checks in cool, neutral banks. Like Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays, Into the Valley creates and recreates a wasted American landscape, and pulls us into a world whose emptiness has profound moral and social implications." - Mary Gordon

"Into the Valley is at once gorgeous and restrained; the character is herself a kind of vivid, shifting landscape, just as the landscape is itself a beguiling, dominating character. The result is an intensely emotional and human novel." - Rivka Galchen, author of American Innovations

"I reveled in a delicious state of unease reading Into the Valley, the parched atmosphere leaving me as dizzy as the protagonist, perfectly and simply known as 'B.' An enthralling, disturbing read, part Joan Didion and very much Patricia Highsmith, Galm stuns with this eerie, suspenseful ride of a novel. I loved this book." - Paula Bomer, author of Inside Madeleine

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Ruth Galm was born and raised in San José, California, earned an MFA from Columbia University, and has lived in San Francisco ever since. Her short fiction has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Indiana Review, and Joyland, and she is a past resident of the Ucross Foundation. Into the Valley is her first novel.

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