Vladimir: A Novel
Julia May Jonas’s debut novel, Vladimir, explores desire and ego and their manifestations through throbbing obsession, desperate spontaneity, and bitter surrender. The unnamed protagonist, a tenured, older-than-middle-aged English professor at a small upstate New York liberal arts college, is dealing with the repercussions of her husband’s ongoing affairs with students as they come to light in an intra-#metoo movement world when a youngish professor named Vladimir steps into the spotlight: buff, newly published, and with a melancholic marriage and family life to boot.
Remaining nameless is an ironic twist of her self-obsession—with her aging body, her reputation among fellow faculty and students, and finally, the men in her life. In projecting the ego onto Vladimir, the object of her desire, Jonas’s protagonist leads an interrogation of her own formation of self as compared with that of her husband, daughter, colleagues, and society.
While the writing was deliciously thrilling and smart, the pacing of the story seemed unbalanced and required more context and space to fill out. There seemed to be a temptation in the narrative voice to luxuriate in more exploration of ego and desire, but at times it felt pushed aside to make room for plot movement. These criticisms aside, Vladimir is a riveting, poignant story that questions where we stand (and where we’re heading) on doing what feels correct versus what feels right. It doesn’t really answer its question, but it keeps its eye on you as it dances around it.
|Julia May Jonas
|Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster
|Buy this Book