“Cosseted like rare orchids”

Very briefly noted: in a book review by Christine Smallwood in the May Harper’s,

Reality wasn’t directly relevant,” one character thinks, all too relevantly, in Nell Zink’s manic new novel MISLAID … The fun begins in the hazy 1960s at the all-female Stillwater College, a former plantation decked out with Virginia creeper: “A mecca for lesbians, with girls in shorts standing in the reeds to smoke, popping little black leeches with their fingers, risking expulsion for cigarettes and going in the lake.” One of these lesbians is a would-be playwright named Peggy, and before you can say “freshman orientation,” she’s shacked up with the resident campus queen, a gay male poet and professor named Lee Fleming who lives down the lake and paddles to class in a canoe. Their eventual marriage isn’t exactly a sham — “vestiges of heterosexuality . . . cosseted like rare orchids” produce two children — but neither does it provide what you might term fulfillment.

A wonderful turn of phrase.

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