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#1 New York Times bestselling author Haven Kimmel makes an exhilarating foray into psychological gothic territory with the electrifying story of a young woman emerging from layers of delusion fantasy and lies With her astounding intelligence fierce independence and otherworldly lavender eyes college senior Trace Pennington makes an indelible impression even as uestions about her past and her true identity hover over every page From her earliest years Trace turned away from her abusive mother toward her loving father Within the twisty logic of abuse her desperate love for him took on a romantic cast that persists to this day though she’s had no contact with her family since she ran away from home years ago She’s eked out an impoverished but functional existence living in an abandoned house putting herself through college—and leading a double life at school she is Ianthe Covington a young woman with no past Trace’s solitary life is upended when she and her literature professor fall in love As it becomes apparent that he has his own dark secrets she’s forced to face herself and her past After recovering a horrific long suppressed memory Trace finally copes with the fallout from her brutal childhood This uniue portrait of the psychological effects of trauma is tantalizing shocking and ultimately hopeful


10 thoughts on “Iodine

  1. says:

    A real departure for Kimmel and for my money a triumphant return But for Orville and Solace of Leaving Early the other works of hers I have read have not drawn me in enough for me to even finish themBut Iodine Iodine It is gorgeous and intense and heavy and complex and worthwhile I feel I need to go back to school for many years to cover all that I know I missed in her discussion of archetypes just to figure out if Ianthe's poem is any goodBut there is so much to consider It lacks a certain tenderness a depiction of grace in the world but this text is harsher colder than Solace Not in a bad way it is just different And beautiful I hope Kimmel gets the recognition she deserves for this novel I also hope that despite my ignorance about archetypes and ancient Greek and methamphetamines that others with clout will appreciate this novel I would hate for it to go unnoticed Kimmel was cutting into something deep here and the structure the pacing all of it is risky for her but I argue well well worth itI think that perhaps we will have to see what Ms Waters has to say on the subject She expects she might have time to read it in July


  2. says:

    Trace Pennington is a senior at the top of her class at the University of the Midwest a double major in English and classics with an intimidating uadruple minor in psychology humanities philosophy and after one class women’s studies But when she came to school she turned down the room and board part of her scholarship preferring to do her studying in the run down unheated farmhouse where she lives with her father’s dog and two hundred unlabeled file folders No one not even her lifelong best friend knows her address She’s not even enrolled under her real name What Trace is hiding from however she is also trapped with herself mental illness memory realityKimmel’s prose both in her memoirs “A Girl Named Zippy” and previous novels “The Solace of Leaving Early” has always been lovely; here it reaches a chilling beauty She handles two concurrent narratives Trace’s revelatory jottings in a dream journal for one of her classes the invitation only seminar Special Topics in Archetypical Psychology and her third person movements through several different worlds the rural bleakness of her childhood the posing personae of college kids the jargon laced farce of academia and always the dark bristling territory of dreams The characterization is usually painful and often funny—a cover blurb compares Kimmel to Flannery O’Connor and they do share the ability to portray people who at once hopelessly cliched and completely individual Many of the cast of “Iodine” have in fact consciously turned themselves into stereotypes both funny and heartbreaking the overwrought transsexual the obese paranormal obsessed trailer wife the rumpled past his prime professor exiled to a third rate university Archetypes after all are just caricatures on a sublime scale And archetypes are where this novel dwells within the Jungian corridors of the collective unconscious where Trace’s hallucinations the coyote walking upright who when she was six put a pebble in the back of her neck and led her over the hillside to where her best friend was waiting are every bit as real as her abusive mother and her too beloved father While bits and pieces of Trace’s past are revealed as the line between author and narrator all but disappears it’s impossible—and pointless—to tell what really happenedWhy iodine? It’s referenced only twice once within a delusion but as the title it’s at the back of the reader’s mind throughout it represents I think the attempt to heal imposed from without—helpful but superficial leaving behind a stain


  3. says:

    Sorry folks I just cannot say anything nice about this book Sad since I've very much enjoyed every other Haven Kimmel book I've read I knew I didn't like this book after about 70 pages but I continued on for another 70 or so pages after that hoping this author wouldn't disappoint me and things would come together The book just got worse and worse IF you are a psych major and like reading boring blather about Freud and Jung interspersed with a terrible so called story about a psychopathic mentally ill college student with friends who believe they were abducted by aliensthen have at it Otherwise don't waste your time It breaks my heart to have to write a review like this but I feel like I should warn other fans of this author that this book has none of the ualities you've come to know and love in her other novels


  4. says:

    The word ambitious is often applied to big books books with big themes books with big language big aspirations and so onnone of which usually add up to much For a reviewer to call a book ambitious is instantly damning as it implies that the ambitions have not been fulfilled Not so with the novels of Haven Kimmel which deal with such huge swaths of academic study and in such depth they could be called ambitious But not merely ambitious No Haven Kimmel delivers She has read she has studied and not only that mmmman can she write Iodine plunges the reader into the bizarre daily life and dream journals of Trace Pennington Trace lives in an abandoned house with her dog Weeds takes showers at a local truck stop and is such an ardent academic that she has enough credits to declare multiple majors and minors We also uickly learn that she grew up wanting to have sex with her father who found the idea unacceptable her mother uses her as a sort of currency and that she receives freuent visits from all manner of wild animals some of whom speak to her If that's not enough weirdness Iodine also enters the worlds of UFO sightings and alien abductions post punkNew Wave music Kate Bush's Hounds of Love album figures prominently and very appropriately mythology and archetype academia and its follies feminism and so much This book is a staggering achievement of layer upon layer upon layer of meaning I've read it only once and have barely scratched the surface I'm going to enjoy digging further into it on subseuent reads It's not an easy read see above re layers but it is gripping Haven Kimmel has created a living breathing complex character in Trace Pennington and has laid bare that character's psyche for all to see This is one of the most literate challenging downright terrifying books I've read in years Just when I think I've seen all there is to see in the world of contemporary fiction just when I think there isn't any fresh way to explore the same old themes the human race ponders over and over again a flash of brilliance appears Haven Kimmel is utterly original and enormously talented


  5. says:

    Iodine by Haven Kimmel was a very disturbing book for me I could not say I liked it but I feel compelled to give it high praise for what Kimmel has created in this portrayal of her character Trace Pennington If you dare enter her psychotic mindI never I never had sex with my father but I would have if he had agreedThe majority of Iodine comes to us in the form of journals The excerpt above is how Kimmel opens her novel Certainly attention getting—certainly a setup of what may be coming Whether or not any of the interactions between Trace and her family members ever really happened we cannot be sure of¾what we do know for sure is that Trace Pennington believed everything that she wrote—at the time she wrote it The false starts again as demonstrated above are also accompanied by failure to finish thoughts beginning new thoughts in the middle of others and various sidetracks of her ongoing thoughtsTrace has a form of epilepsy that is not discovered or even considered until late in her life Once she is medicated she begins to realize and investigate what has been happening to herWhere does a brilliant woman escape to when she is delusional or hallucinating?Even earlier and perhaps critical—where does she go to escape abuse from her own mother who described her as a changeling?Readers enter Trace’s life during her time at university She has created a persona Ianthe Covington who is now considering various Honors courses that will not only complete her degree but also provide her various minors in fields such as Women’s Studies It is uite obvious that she has read far beyond all reuirements and in fact has exceeded the experience of some of her professors Indeed readers uickly become aware of the brilliance of the author even though it is bizarrely portrayed through her central characterWhile Ianthe is steadily moving toward her degree Trace has left home and lives in an abandoned house with little money It is there where she writes of visiting the Underworld to meet with Pluto or Hekate Or she might share her dreams and then her own interpretation of those dreams—or what interpretation Freud or Jung might provideTrace’s mind seems to never stop and readers are thrown page by page into Greek mythology to Jung to Freud and back to Jung Fortunately Trace has Weeds as her totem to provide stabilization to her life her beloved dog given to her by her beloved fatheruntilOne day Ianthe sees and meets her “fate” He is one of her professors Jacob Matthias And so she discovers where he lives goes there and waits on an outside porch until he comes hometo tell him so Surprisingly she just might be right this time Indeed she doesn’t know how fateful he has been until perhaps the day she hears a doctor ask him how long they had been married In her mind she tried to say four months But she hears surprised when he responds “Four years and four months to the day”Once I made it through some of her journal entries I had become absorbed into Trace’s life It is then fascinating to sit back and watch her internal thoughts within the academic community and her overwhelming brilliance as she explores Hades or her dreams andor hallucinations of her parents There is a realism that is beyond comprehension for many of us yet the author has indeed placed us directly into the mind of this woman It is truly amazing It is disturbing It is horrible It is wondrousBut no matter what for me Haven Kimmel’s Iodine is one of the most memorable books I have ever read and it will continue to haunt me Outstanding writing G A BixlerIndependent Professional Book Reviewer


  6. says:

    Wow I’m not really sure what I just read Talk about powerful and extremely sad but without the details A very surface level story that makes you infer and assume your way through with a depressing ending to it all I had never heard of this book before I was at the local library picking up a different book and happened to see this listed on the book catalog underneath the one I was looking for and I thought it looked interesting The book I originally wanted was checked out so I was leaning even towards reading this book This is one of those books where nothing I say will help anyone who reads this This book just simply has to be read to be understood It’s all over the place and sometimes hard to follow It was good enough that I finished it though I loved the depth and rawness of the story especially Being into psychology and being interested in mental illness is partly why I enjoyed this book It is not your typical read though So don’t go into it expecting anything because I highly doubt you’d be right


  7. says:

    This book was weird as hell I don't even know if I can post a review because I'm not sure I even got it It's a psychological tale with an unreliable narrator I think If you took philosophy psychology or say have a divinity degree you might fare better than I I found the hyper specific details such as Kate Bush lyrics jarring juxtaposed with prose about Hekate and archetypes


  8. says:

    Iodine has got to be the best book I've read in 20 years This novel explores the dark and terrifying world of delusion and madness Kimmel uses an unreliable narrator to a chaotic shocking and surreal effect While Trace descends into madness the reader struggles to untangle the threads of this story but is rewarded by prose that is achingly beautiful intelligent lush and challenging This is an amazing fantastic whirlwind of a character study with an explosive endingI read this book last year and it has stayed with me like no other An absolutely stunning 5 star read


  9. says:

    Um clearly I am eual parts A Not crazy phew and B Unlearned because I could hardly follow this book at all It I can only suppose captures the mind of a deeply disturbed highly intelligent girl and I was just plugging through until before I know it it's the end of the book there's this crazy twist and it was over I was just scratching my head and wondering what the heck just happened Hated it


  10. says:

    Bound August 28 2008 Miami Sun PostZippy Rides Again Sort OfHaven Kimmel Pours Some Iodine on the WoundedBy John HoodIt’s been seven years since Haven Kimmel broke into the Best Book lists with her startlingly frank and outwardly funny memoir A Girl Named Zippy In that time there’s been a three piece of place the novels The Solace of Leaving Early Something Rising Light and Swift and The Used World a second look back She Got up off the Couch a book for swift kids Orville A Dog Story and a retelling of Revelation for the hard cover companion to the über hip online belief sheet Killing the BuddhaAnd as if those weren’t already than many writers write in a lifetime she’s now unleashed Iodine Free Press 24 a novel that reads like the result of all of the above — through the eyes of a stalkerOkay not uite But the dame at the center of the story is oddly stalkable and duly stalked even as she too is kinda on the stalkBut I aggress Before we core it’s necessary to know who’s holding the knife which in this case seems to be two keen women each inhabiting the same bodyOne is Iaanthe Covington a name stolen from a gravestone and used to hide behind in a Midwestern campus full of prying eyes In lesser hands the tag would be terribly difficult to live up to — or to live down But Kimmel isn’t a lesser hand at anything And neither is this overlayered Gothette with Jet Grape hair and lips who’s got a mind that can link Lear to love loss without skipping an IbsenTrue also for Trace Pennington Sister of a meth wracked mother of missing children and friend to a freuent abductee Trace has her daddy’s truck her daddy’s dog and her daddy’s long lashes Oh yeah and she keeps an old abandoned kerosene heated homesteadTogether the two encroach upon each other until the lines begin to blur the lies begin to true and the lives begin to be too much for one small girl’s body to handle even if her mind is as big as the Pacific So she turns outward to her friend to her family and to a nutty professor who has read every book in the world and still isn’t half as keen as he thinks he isTrace is though; so smart in fact that she could outsmart herself if she wanted to And with the amount of know in that noggin of hers she just might Imagine having all of history’s thoughts and theories right at the tip of your tongue and rarely saying a word It’s a heady mix all right and the rarefied air could leave you breathless It can’t be easy to write learned and not come off like a showoff nor can it be simple to set even a part of a story at a university and not end up like a yawn I mean hell we’ve all been there before right? Maybe But not like this See Iodine is less about some erudite professor wowing a starry eyed student and about what happens when that student has her starry eyes gouged out and begins to see Kinda sorta really just like Zippy only differentI slipped Ms Kimmel 13 of my trademark eitherors; here’s what she slipped backArchetype or alien?Archetypes certainly Aliens are only for some but archetypes are EVERYWHERE Bees or bobcats?Bees for poetry; bobcats in reality Oooo I love me some bobcats Pigs or coyotes?Coyotes although they’re meaner than you thinkAcorns or walnuts?Acorns They eventually become giant treesCircuses or rodeos?Circuses are for dreams; rodeos are thrillingMemory or imagination?There’s so little difference I don't know how to answerYoknapatawpha or Winesburg?Yoknapatawpha if you want your genius raw; Winesburg if you want to visit someplace that seems realRain Man or Wolf Man?Wolf Man Rain Man would be so tiresomePeter Murphy or Robert Smith?Oooh ow I never stop listening to Robert Smith but Peter Murphy is like a ghost you love and can’t give upFlannery O'Connor or Eudora Welty?This hurts me mightily and if you tell Ms Welty I'll call you a liar but oh it’s always always FlanneryElizabeth Bishop or Emily Dickinson?Dickinson Dickinson Dickinson But Elizabeth Bishop — touched by the gods as wellDurham Raleigh Muncie Oxford and Miami? How does South Florida fit into that mix?Certainly not geographically I love South Florida but I’m really coming just to see Mitchell Kaplan that handsome devil